Law Pushes Grass-Roots Democracy

China’s top legislators said Wednesday that the country will take effective supervision measures to ensure democratic elections for thousands of village committees, the lowest level self-governing organization elected by farmers’ direct voting.

They made the remarks in Beijing at a symposium marking the second anniversary of the enforcement of the Organic Law of the Villagers’ Committee.

The symposium was sponsored by the Internal and Judicial Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC).

Senior legislators of the NPC made it clear that it is a significant step for China to push forward democracy.

It is of vital importance for China to maintain the development of the rural economy, social progress and stability, they stressed.

The essence of the self-governing is that the majority of China’s 900 million plus rural residents, or 75 percent of the nation’s population, will decide their own affairs.

The legislators said the election of the village committee should be independent of the Party branch of the village.

And only by properly handling the relationship between the village committees and township governments, the higher authorities of the committees, can China stick up for the democratic voting rights of villagers and their right to manage their own affairs, they said.

In the past, some village elections have been interfered with by townships who did

not agree with the results even though they were legal.

Villages in Northeast China’s Jilin Province have been trying a new election method that gives villagers more choices.

The method, “Haixuan” (Sea Election), gives each villager the chance to nominate a person of their own choice from the whole village. The top three candidates with most votes will enter final polling.

The new method has been introduced to many other rural villages in recent years.

“It gives the people a chance to democratize the process, that is a very encouraging step. They understand the importance of opening of the process,” said Robert Pastor, head of a delegation from the Carter Centre in the United States, who observed such elections in 1998.

(China Daily 11/09/2000)

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