“Chinese activists harness Twitter to campaign in elections”

Another one about the grassroots elections from the Telegraph:

The rush of candidates this year was sparked in part by an online controversy over government suppression of the candidature of a laid-off steelworker in the southern city of Xinyu who was placed under house arrest for “disturbing social order” during the election period.

Another factory worker who has announced his intention to stand told The Telegraph that he had faced similar “dirty tricks” including giving him only six hours notice to find his 10 supporters and submit his application.

“I’m insisting on being allowed to stand for election because it is my constitutional right,” said Wang Zhongxiang, a 50-year-old foreman at a state-owned power company in the northeastern port city of Tianjin.

Mr Wang, whose blog was shut down by internet censors in 2007, said that unofficial government pressure was actually increasing against independent candidates.

It remains unclear how forcefully China’s government will tackle the small but vocal wave of independent candidates who only represent a tiny minority of two million representatives “elected” to provincial and district assemblies between now and the end of 2012.

Mr Yao, who was a signatory of the Charter 08 pro-democracy petition whose author Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years, said he had received a visit from the Guobao, China’s secret police, who had warned him not to campaign illegally, but admitted his constitutional right to stand.

“I think the Party is not accustomed to think about people wanting to contribute constructively. They assume the intent and motive of the people is hostile, not that people want to embrace gradual reform,” he said.

“But reform is the only solution, whether the Party likes it or not. The Party has two choices: to reform step-by-step through progressive reforms or face a violent revolution. There really is no ‘third way’.”

I suspect that over the right timeframe Mr. Yao is correct. That’s why this new generation of leadership is going to be so vital: if they aren’t willing or able to implement political reform, I would be surprised if China doesn’t end up in very real trouble over the next decade.

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Filed under China, Communist Party, elections, internet, intimidation

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