From The Economist:
Grassroots democracy in China, which began to show faint signs of life three years ago, is struggling. On November 8th millions of voters in Beijing took part in largely stage-managed local elections. The authorities seem to have had second thoughts about encouraging more combative contests.
In 2003 elections to district people’s congresses, the lowest legislative tier in urban China, inspired a glimmer of hope that the Communist Party was ready to relax its tight control of these rubber-stamp bodies. In Beijing, for the first time in more than two decades, people got their names on the ballot papers without official backing. A handful campaigned on the streets (not normally allowed). A few were even elected. Some state-controlled newspapers eagerly reported these developments.[Full Text]