China Wukan Elected an 11-Member Election Committee


A committee of 11 was elected on Wednesday to oversee the forthcoming ballots in a historical grass-root democracy experiment in Wukan.

The 11 committee members were elected by 7,688 eligible villagers who voted from 9:00 am to 16:00 pm either in person or by proxy. The first of the two elections will lead to residents selecting new local leaders on March 1, Reuters said quoting a villager.

The event has been widely reported and interpreted by foreign media. Titled “Chinese Village Vote Tests Waters on Reform”, the Wall Street Journal said the election has “potentially broad implications for the future of grass-roots democracy in China as well as the country’s coming top leadership transition.”

“The question now is whether Wukan’s election will spark further democratization elsewhere in China, and how tolerant the national government might be,” it said.

The New York Times quoted Lin Jiang, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guagnzhou, as saying that the election may serve as an evidence to show that “just because you don’t have a good education, doesn’t mean you can’t elect officials to represent your interests.”

The 11-day confrontation was defused in late December, after a team sent by local provincial party boss Wang Yang made a concession by promising to root out corruption and hold free elections for new village leaders.

Wukan villagers held their first demonstration in September 2011, accusing local officials of abusing power, grabbing villagers’ land and corruption.