Chinese Seize Upon a Chance to Sound Off

The L.A. Times reports that a Chinese political representative’s unusual appeal to her constituency resulted in hundreds of calls — citizens expressing their opinions on everything from political reform to migrant workers’ rights.

By Mark Magnier, Times Staff Writer

When National People’s Congress representative Zhou Xiaoguang took to the airwaves recently with a simple request, she never expected such an overwhelming response.

“Please tell me how I can better represent you,” the 42-year-old businesswoman said in a brief television spot in the southeastern Chinese province of Zhejiang.

It’s the kind of thing that wouldn’t earn a second glance in the West. But in a country with a long history of top-down rule, where people are more often told rather than asked their political views, the ad hit like a bombshell.

A hotline she set up was swamped with calls from as far away as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, thousands of miles away. Her modest gesture has set off a national dialogue on responsive governance. Journalists from all over the country have asked to interview her.

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