Category Archives: independent candidates

“China’s economic rise hasn’t brought moves toward democracy”

In the midst of a broader article, Tom Lasseter has the story of one of the independent candidates whose campaign was destroyed over the last few months:

Lu Weixing decided this year to run as an independent candidate for a local council position in Beijing.

Lost for the right words to describe what came next, he stuck his hand into his pocket and fished out a white and orange Vitamin C tube. He tilted it forward until a single tooth rolled out.

“They beat me and then I lost a tooth,” Lu said recently.

Voting for the largely powerless councils happened Tuesday. Lu’s name was not on the ballot.

His quirky and unsanctioned campaign in west Beijing included wearing a cap with a long queue braid reminiscent of the Qing Dynasty. It was a reminder that although 100 years have passed since the Qing fell, China’s central government is still ruled by non-elected officials.

Lu said that one afternoon in September, a group of plainclothes security officers told him to cut it out. When he refused, Lu said, the men dragged him into a grove of trees and kicked him in the face. Uniformed police were called to the scene, he said, and they broke up the melee. Still, the damage was done.

During lunch the next day, Lu said, he felt his tooth loosening, and when he gave a little tug, it popped out.

Lu said the local election office had refused to give him the form needed to collect signatures to certify him as a candidate. When friends submitted one on his behalf, Lu said, it was ignored.

“By law we’re able to run as candidates,” Lu said, apparently not sure how to finish the sentence.

Another independent in the west of the capital, Han Ying, managed to be accepted as a candidate. But as elections approached she reported being hounded by both police and unidentified men. The day she was scheduled to meet with a McClatchy reporter, Han called to give her regrets.

“When I stepped outside to walk my son to school this morning, a policeman stopped me,” explained Han, who said her name was ultimately omitted from ballots.

Again, these are candidates for small-time local offices which have no real power. Think about what it means that their attempts to run necessitated so much force from Beijing.

Leave a comment

Filed under independent candidates, intimidation, violence

“China’s independents find it hard to get on ballot”

The wave of independent candidates has been pretty completely crushed by now- the Communist Party has done whatever it needed to destroy their campaigns. Via LA Times:

At least on paper, the Chinese Constitution permits any adult citizen without a criminal record to run for the office of people’s representative. In practice, however, those without the blessing of the Communist Party say they are thwarted at every pass: harassed, detained, followed and threatened. If that fails, they say, they’re simply kicked off the ballots.

Although a few independent candidates have won, they tend to refrain from criticizing the government openly and avoid campaigning, especially on the Internet. Activists, however, draw immediate scrutiny from a government that tends to not brook dissent.

“The independent candidates could destroy the current system by soliciting votes on the Internet,” the party-run Global Times newspaper warned in May as the campaign season was opening. “Instead of pushing forward political development, the deviation is likely to create political risks in society.”

The positions of people’s representatives are not terribly elite: 4,349 seats for district or county level representatives are up for grabs in Beijing alone, and nearly 2 million nationwide in elections staggered over the course of the year. None of them are picked for the National People’s Congress, the country’s rubber-stamp legislature. For the most part, the job involves mundane matters such as recycling and pooper-scooper rules for pets.

Guo Huojia, a 60-year-old farmer from Foshan, in Guangdong province, is one of the few independents to win an election. Campaigning against land confiscations and home demolitions, he received a stunning 7,000 out of 9,000 votes in his district in a Sept. 28 vote.

He was arrested the following day. He remains under house arrest.

A Shanghai writer dropped his plans to run after being hit by a tax audit. A real estate mogul who wanted to run for mayor of Zhengzhou says he was so harassed by tax authorities that he went into hiding and left politics behind.

“What they hate about independent candidates is that they reveal the true nature of the system,” said Xue Mengchun, a businessman who has been advising Han Ying on her campaign. “It is all about ‘face.’ The Chinese government is trying to show the world they have democracy.”

There is almost no coverage of the elections in the Chinese media, and you would hardly know they are going on except for red propaganda banners strung around town reading, “People choose the people’s delegates. The people’s delegates work for the people.”

The reality is that candidates mostly have been either Communist Party members or people handpicked by the party. Li Sihua, a former schoolteacher from Jiangxi province, said that when he went to sign up as a candidate in May, officials of the local election committee refused to give him the form.

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, Communist Party, democracy, independent candidates

“Independent Candidate Yu Nan’s Candidacy Revoked for No Reason”

We’ve been following the upsurge in independent candidates for local elections- many have been harassed by the government or had their candidacies invalidated for any number of meaningless reasons. Another one has bitten the dust, this time for no reason whatsoever:

On September 7, Yu was suddenly notified by the Election Committee of the National People’s Congress and asked to turn in original copies of the household registrations and property certificates for all of his 17 nominators. In addition, one of the nominators was required to be present at the Committee for an interview. Yu later managed to collect all of the required documentations in time, and his wife was interviewed as a nominator.

On September 9, however, Yu’s candidacy was revoked with no reason or any prior notification given, despite the fact that he was on the list of four officially registered candidates. And since only three representatives are needed in Yu’s district, there will be no surprise on the election day, which will be September 15.

Another stark reminder that the law exists only as a means of enforcing the Party’s will, and if their will runs contrary to the law, the law loses every time.

Leave a comment

Filed under independent candidates, law

“There are no independent candidates”

More on independent candidates from Fear of a Red Planet, which looks at recent statements by an unnamed National People’s Congress member. Apparently members of the Chinese government have claimed that there’s no legal basis for independent candidates. FoaRP concludes:

So all those years in which independent candidates were being elected, this was in fact illegal? This would at least be the natural conclusion to be drawn from the statements of the unidentified member of the NPC, China’s highest state body and legislature, quoted in the People’s Daily, a newspaper which refers to itself as “the party’s mouthpiece”.

I am given to agreeing that this is a sign of the influence of the new generation of leadership. It does not bode well for the future.

Leave a comment

Filed under China, independent candidates, law