British shadow foreign secretary curious about village elections China

08:54, December 03, 2009      

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British Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague on Wednesday explored how village elections are carried out in China.

Hague came to Chengguan village near Guiyang, capital of Guizhou Province, where he talked with villagers and local officials.

He asked how a village official was chosen. An Wanhong, Party chief of Yanshanhong Township to which the village belongs, said candidates first recommended themselves, then made a speech in front of all the voters. And everybody cast their secret ballot.

Feng Xianguo, the village head, told Hague 90 percent of the villagers participated in the latest election in March 2008.

When Hague asked if bribery for votes occurred, An said it was difficult to decide.

"Is it a bribery for a candidate to lend money to a voter or buy someone a meal?" she asked.

However, China's legislature is drafting a law to define the criteria of election bribery, which drew public outcry in recent years, Li Rubiao, head of the grassroots election department of the provincial government.

Shi Zongyuan, Party chief of Guizhou Province, said in a meeting with Hague that 25.6 million villagers and urban residents,86.3 percent of all eligible voters, from 17,240 village and 1,624urban communities in Guizhou cast their votes in last year's village and urban community elections.

Hague said he was pleased to see the villagers were very enthusiastic about elections and were well-informed on village governance.

He said he wished more people in the world could know about such village elections in China.

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