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Direct polls difficult for China: official

Direct polls difficult for China: official

Beijing, March 4 (CNA) A Chinese official said Sunday that given the vast size of China, its huge population and the varied "local situations," it would be difficult for the country to give people the right to directly elect their local government leaders. Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the National People's Congress (NPC), China's rubber stamp parliament that is meeting in Beijing, was in effect giving a negative answer to media questions regarding the possibility of expanding the so-called "Wukan model" of allowing villagers to directly elect village officials. Wukan is a village of 8,000 adults or eligible voters in southern China's Guangdong Province, whose provincial leaders have just authorized a direct poll for villagers to choose their village chief, two deputy chiefs and four village committee executives. However, the provincial leaders did not make that decision of their own volition. Observers said they were forced by the hard-fighting villagers to open up the election for certain posts as a compromise after a long stand-off between local authorities and grass-roots people over disputes concerning land seizures. Neither were provincial authorities opening up the election for the village's "party secretary," usually referred to as the "No. 1 man" in an administrative zone because of the party official's substantive power. Commenting on the widely observed poll at Wukan Village, Li said a direct election better reflects public opinions as it can directly express public will without going through delegates. "It's a foundation for the state to exercise its powers," Li told the media at a press conference prior to the opening of the fifth meeting of the 11th National People's Congress. However, he continued, "any form of democracy must be in step with society's economic, political and cultural developments." As a country with a vast territory and a huge population, Li said, there are imbalances in each region's economic and social developments, "with some places not even enjoying convenient transportation and communication infrastructures." That explains why there are still difficulties in China for all places to put into practice direct elections of local government leaders, he said. What best suits China, therefore, is a combination of direct and indirect elections, with direct elections as "the foundation," Li said. On China's new rules of electing a representative to the NPC, Li said one such representative will be elected for every 670,000 people when the next NPC is called. But based on the principle of "regional equality," Li noted, at least eight representatives will be elected in each province, autonomous region or municipality. Another "exception" to the one-seat-per-670,000 people rule is the rule for "the equality of ethnic groups" -- each ethnic group will have at least one seat at the NPC, no matter how small a population that group has, according to Li. There are also special quotas for Hong Kong and Macau -- two special administrative areas -- and the People's Liberation Army based on the "actual situations," Li said. (By Chiu Kuo-chiang, Huang Chi-kuan and S.C. Chang)


Updated : 2020-12-02 17:41 GMT+08:00