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Legislatures: fewer cadres, more migrant rural workers
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China is continuing efforts of reducing the number of officials and incorporating more ordinary citizens into its legislative bodies to make them more representative of the public.

Among the 770 newly-selected deputies to the People's Congress of Beijing Municipality, only 62, or eight percent, were from government departments, compared with 100 five years ago, the People's Daily reported.

Among Shanghai's 860 deputies, the number of officials of, or higher than, prefecture level were 49 less than that of five years ago, the paper said, without giving exact figures.

It had also become a general trend in other provincial-level legislature elections to cut the number of officials, it added.

"To cut the number of officials in legislatures provides bigger access for grassroots deputies, a move that makes legislators more representative of the general public," the paper quoted Han Dayuan, a law professor with Renmin University of China, as saying.

In Beijing, the number of worker deputies increased to 28 from 10 five years ago. The number of farmer deputies rose from 13 to 21. In central Henan Province, grassroots deputies accounted for 36 percent of the total.

In particular, the country's hundreds of millions of rural migrant workers are having more of their own representatives seated in provincial legislatures.

Beijing, Shanghai and Fujian Province saw in January, for the first time, the election of migrant workers as local legislators, the paper said.

The election of migrants as local lawmakers began in 2002 in Zhejiang Province when Zhu Linfei became a deputy in Yiwu City People's Congress.

At last year's annual session of the National People's Congress, a bill was passed that stipulated provinces and municipalities with large populations of rural migrant workers should set deputy quotas for the disadvantaged group.

In a People Daily story on Monday, the voice of the Communist Party of China lauded the elections of migrant legislators as "a landmark event" in the country's socialist democratic political construction.

It also indicated that in March there may be migrant-worker legislators attending the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

(Xinhua News Agency January 17, 2008)

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