Premier Wen Stresses Rural Democracy


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to safeguard farmer's right to vote in the vast rural areas, while slapping the widespread formalism in rural elections.

Affairs in villages should be determined by villagers themselves, and self-governance is the only appropriate way to improve rural community administration, the premier said on Saturday as he visited Guangzhou, the capital city of South China's Guangdong Province.

Wen's remarks came two days after villagers in Wukan, a fishing village in the province, started their first election after forcing local authorities out in protests against land grab and corruption. (seeVillagers in Wukan Go to the Polls After Protest; China Wukan Elected an 11-Member Election Committee )

The stand-off in late 2011 defused after local government officials stepped in by pledging to root out corruption and elect new village leaders.

The problem now in many Chinese rural areas is that local authority has made self-governance a mere "formality", said Wen, meaning that the government's rural theory was mostly failed to be carried out by local authorities.

"In many events that involve farmers' key interests, some village cadres said they were granted approvals by villagers initially, but it turned out to be the opposite when riots started," Wen said.

Wen called it "an important task" for party committees and government at different levels to "safeguard farmer’s right to vote and push through the system of rural self-governance and direct elections in local village committees."

Also on the same day, the Premier iterated the government's pledge to "unwaveringly push forward opening-up and reform," a policy introduced by Deng Xiaoping.

"Opening-up and reform should be implemented unswervingly, or there will only be a dead end," said Wen, citing Deng Xiaoping, who made a famous speech during his inspection tour of south China 20 years ago.