Activist’s Brother Told to Step Down in Village Elections

2005-05-20
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HONG KONG—The brother of former Tiananmen democracy activist and China Democracy Party (CDP) founder Wang Youcai has been pressured by local government officials to withdraw his candidacy in upcoming village elections, RFA’s Mandarin service has learned.

“People have been very kind and supportive to me. I have quite a large number of supporters,” Wang Youhua, one of only two candidates contesting the village chief elections in Liwu village in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, told RFA.

“But officials on the village committee have been putting pressure on me not to stand. Officials in the township government have been saying this too,” Wang said.

Repeated calls to township officials during business hours went unanswered.

Grass-roots elections across China

Around 18 cities, provinces, and districts throughout China are currently gearing up for elections to change their village chiefs, in one of the largest attempts at democracy the communist country has seen to date.

Beijing’s Ministry of Civil Affairs has reminded officials at all levels that of the enormous importance and far-reaching implications of the exercise, calling for it to be carried out properly.

But villagers in Wang’s village, near Xukou Township, said their elections seemed unlikely to be carried out freely and fairly.

But officials on the village committee have been putting pressure on me not to stand. Officials in the township government have been saying this too.

“One of the candidates is the current village chief, and the other is Wang Youhua,” a resident of Liwu told RFA reporter Lin Di. “If the elections are carried out in a free and fair manner, the village chief won’t be able to beat Wang Youhua,” she said.

“This is because of many factors—the type of person he is, his connection to the concerns of ordinary people, many things. There’s no comparison. That’s the way things stand.”

Money politics in China, too

She said that anyone seeking election as a village chief in the province needed to spend money to win votes.

“The incumbent really throws the money around now, but no one says anything in the village. If Wang Youhua were to be elected...things would definitely be different,” said the resident, who asked not to be named.

The incumbent really throws the money around now, but no one says anything in the village. If Wang Youhua were to be elected...things would definitely be different.

Asked if Wang’s family ties were impeding his chances, the woman dismissed the connection with Wang Youcai, who tried with several other activists across China in 1998 to register China’s first opposition party, the CDP, using legal means.

“I don’t think this should be a problem,” she told RFA. “Wang Youcai has served his time and left the country. He has already gone to America, so this shouldn’t be a problem any more.”

Original reporting in Mandarin by Lin Di. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Produced for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Original reporting in Mandarin

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