In 2005, a total of 470 million Chinese villagers took part in village elections to cast their votes on the candidates who were vying for the leadership of 368,000 village committees.
In its recently-published annual report, the Ministry of Civil Affairs hailed the village elections, the basic form of grassroots democracy in the countryside, as a "bright point" of the country's efforts to build a democratic polity.
The country launched village elections in the 1990s and the elections are witnessing increased competition and stricter supervision.
As of the end of last year, there were 629,000 village committees across the country, 15,000 less than the figure of the previous year. The number of village committee members was 2,657,000, 190,000 less than the figure of 2004.
Last year, more than 88,000 villages were named model villages for autonomy, which indicates that China's village-based democracy has been further improved, according to the ministry's annual report.
(Xinhua News Agency May 19, 2006)