July 12, 2007
China’s Slow Road to Democracy
According to this Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder, democratic reforms are taking place in carefully controlled experiments such as the following:
Village elections. Beginning in 1988, China allowed villagers to directly elect village leaders onto committees. Village elections now occur in some 930,000 villages, involving some 75 percent of China’s population, according to data from the Carter Center’s China Elections Project. But the project says the process is marred by corruption and voting irregularities.
Nomination of local Community Party officials. Reforms in the 1990s allowed citizens to participate in the nomination of local Communist Party officials. But the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), a body created by U.S. Congress to monitor human rights and the rule of law in China, says “the Party retains tight control over the candidate pool and the selection process.” Regulations dictate that voting totals should not necessarily determine nominees, and officials have the authority to remove names from nominee lists.
Public hearings on legislation. Chinese officials also allow public hearings to gain insight on legislative matters. In 2005, the National People’s Congress held its first public hearing, with the Congress selecting and soliciting opinions from twenty people, including academics and migrant workers, out of a pool of five thousand applicants for a hearing on raising the minimum taxable income. Activists and experts have used the public hearings to share information for environmental legislation and to protest development projects. However, public hearings have limited impact, given that they often occur close to the end of a regulatory process or when a development project is already underway.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference China’s Slow Road to Democracy: