China's Independents Find it Hard to Get on Ballot

The Los Angeles Times looks at the challenges facing Chinese citizens who are waging independent campaigns, largely through social media, to get elected to local people’s congress positions:

The positions of people’s representatives are not terribly elite: 4,349 seats for district or county level representatives are up for grabs in Beijing alone, and nearly 2 million nationwide in elections staggered over the course of the year. None of them are picked for the National People’s Congress, the country’s rubber-stamp legislature. For the most part, the job involves mundane matters such as recycling and pooper-scooper rules for pets.

Notwithstanding the lowly jobs available, , bloggers and activists, writers and academics, factory workers and farmers, entrepreneurs and even a fashion model are queuing up for the posts.

Guo Huojia, a 60-year-old farmer from Foshan, in Guangdong province, is one of the few independents to win an election. Campaigning against land confiscations and home demolitions, he received a stunning 7,000 out of 9,000 votes in his district in a Sept. 28 vote.

He was arrested the following day. He remains under house arrest.

A Shanghai writer dropped his plans to run after being hit by a tax audit. A real estate mogul who wanted to run for mayor of Zhengzhou says he was so harassed by tax authorities that he went into hiding and left politics behind.

CDT has translated numerous posts by and about the independent candidates, including “Independent Candidate Yu Nan’s Candidacy Revoked for No Reason” and “Celebrity Candidate Ineligible for Election Following Interference from Neighborhood Committee.” See also a Globe and Mail report earlier this week titled, “Even in China’s Token Nod to Democracy, Voters Have Little Choice” (via CDT).

November 5, 2011 9:53 PM
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