Even in China’s Token Nod to Democracy, Voters Have Little Choice

The Globe and Mail reports on the fate of several individuals who ran independent campaigns for local people’s congress positions. Beijing journalist Xu Chunliu, for example, was disqualified from running in his neighborhood because he works in another part of the city:

Mr. Xu’s case was sadly far from unique. All around China, most of those who decided to put China’s limited democracy to the test were bounced out on convenient (and often improbable) technicalities. Local elections are underway around the country, but the Communist Party apparatus has ensured voters have little in the way of real choice.

Twenty-three-year-old model Cheng Yuting, who was running in another district of Beijing – and aiming to become China’s first celebrity politician – was disqualified on the grounds that the 10 people who signed her nomination paper hadn’t done so in front of neighbourhood committee members (a regulation that doesn’t appear to exist).

In the central city of Lanzhou, high-profile candidate Yu Nan was briefly allowed onto the list of official candidates, only to be disqualified eight days later after the 37-year-old posted something resembling a campaign platform on his own microblog.

Among the promises Mr. Yu made were: he would be accessible to voters at all times, take public transportation to work and not waste public money. “China is most in need of transparency now,” he wrote. Basic stuff, but apparently too radical for someone’s liking.

Read more about the independent candidate movement in China
, including several translations of posts by the candidates themselves, on CDT.


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