Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

China’s Wen urges ‘open’, ‘fair’ village elections [AFP/Yahoo]

Today is the Shangyuan Festival (上元节), commonly known as the Yuanxiao Festival (元宵节). It marks the 15th and final day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, thus completing the run of the Spring Festival. This day to the Chinese culture, is about cultivating positive relationships between people, families and nature. This act is traditionally  believed to be responsible for returning the light to each year.

With the return of the light, today we witness a spark toward the paradigmatic shift in the organisation of the Chinese: The Wukan uprising has created a resounding gong upward the chain of command, insofar as international+overseas-Chinese media coverage and the attention that central government has had to pay on the matter, and the compromise they’ve had to yield to the peasants.

Perhaps it’s time for blanket value judgements of China as communist to be reconsidered as Wen pushes for open elections at the village level, a departure from the previously closed-door elections  ‘…because if there is no procedural democracy, then there is no real democracy.

It is also pertinent to note that despite the unrest that’s been generated from the social turmoil of the land grabs, the Wukan residents have at least been portrayed by both international and local media to still be supportive of the communist party.

For more on the elections, check out this Businessweek report here.

– – –

China’s Wen urges ‘open’, ‘fair’ village elections
Source – Yahoo News, published Feb 6, 2012

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao called for open and democratic village elections in comments published Sunday, after unfair polls were part of the reason behind a rebellion against officials in south China.

Residents in Wukan village in the southern province of Guangdong faced off with authorities for more than a week in December in a row over land and corruption and won rare concessions including pledges to hold free village polls.

China — a one-party state where top leaders are not elected by the people — nevertheless allows villagers across the country to vote for a committee to represent them, but the process is often tainted with corruption and scandal.

Wukan residents said their leaders had never before allowed these polls to go ahead in an open fashion, and instead selected members of the village committee behind closed doors.

“For direct village committee elections to go well, the most basic thing is to have strict laws and regulations and… also have open, fair and transparent procedures,” Wen told residents in another Guangdong village.

“Because if there is no procedural democracy, then there is no real democracy,” he said as he toured parts of the province on Saturday after travelling there with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Wen, widely considered one of the more progressive leaders in authoritarian China, has on several occasions said China must seek political reform.

In September, Wen promised to make efforts “to guarantee and perfect democracy”, and last March, he urged “gradual” political reform in comments similar to ones he made in the summer of 2010.

However analysts said he was just paying lip service to reform and democracy favoured by the party, which maintains an iron grip on political power and has not lessened its crackdown on dissent.

In his Sunday comments, Wen said China opposed acts such as corruption or family influence influencing direct village elections — part of the grievances held by Wukan residents.

On Wednesday, the rebel villagers kicked off a key process towards holding their first-ever democratic vote by choosing members of an independent election committee made up of 11 villagers.

These will not be allowed to run for next month’s village election, due on March 1.


Filed under: AFP, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Government & Policy, Influence, Mapping Feelings, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategy, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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