The New York Times’ Sharon LaFraniere reports on Qiao Mu, a professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University whose failed candidacy in a neighborhood People’s Congress election highlights the government’s growing paranoia over independent candidates and the actions it will take to thwart their success:
Mr. Qiao said authorities did all they could to stymie him, keeping his name off the ballot, threatening his student volunteers, even forcibly collecting the red bookmarks he had printed with the slogan: “I am the master of my ballot.”
“The harassment started from the very beginning,” he said in an interview in his university office, still cluttered with campaign paraphernalia he never got to distribute. “It is a shame, because I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “All we did was follow China’s Constitution and election law.”
His experience demonstrates an underlying political doctrine of today’s China: while Chinese leaders speak in favor of political reform, local authorities routinely deny voters the chance to freely choose a political representative.
Like many of the booming number of independent “citizen candidates” emerging in China this year, Qiao ran an innovative campaign via social media and the Internet but fell victim to manipulation tactics that have plagued a number of his peers.