China: Netizens Declare Candidacy In Upcoming Elections

Amid news of the Fuzhou bombings on Thursday, something remarkable was taking place on Sina Weibo: earlier this week, citizens from across the country began announcing their decision to run this autumn as independent candidates in their local People's Congress elections at the municipal district level, voting for which is open to the public. Among them are journalists Li Chengpeng and Yao Bo.

Though not unprecedented—Yao Lifa's 1998 win of a municipal level People's Congress seat in Hubei province led several dozen others to try and follow in his footsteps—the Weibo ‘slate’ is unique given the high public profile of several participants, as well as that nearly all of them began their campaigns on their microblog.

From Wikipedia, ‘Elections in the People's Republic of China’:

Deputies to people's congresses of counties, cities not divided into districts, municipal districts, townships, ethnic townships, and towns are elected directly by their constituencies to five-year terms.

One Person, One Vote, Changing China

One Person, One Vote, Changing China

The emergence of the candidates online comes just days after the detention and release of Liu Ping, who also intends to stand in the grassroots level People's Congress election in her province of Jiangxi.

The roster of Weibo candidates, which continued to grow on Thursday, currently includes [all links Chinese]:

Liu Ping, Xinyu, Jiangxi
Li Chengpeng, Chengdu, Sichuan
Xia Shang, Shanghai
Wang Zhongxiang, Tianjin
Huo Taian, Kunming, Yunnan
Hidden Dragon (alias), Changxing, Zhejiang
Yu Nan (alias), Lanzhou, Gansu
He Peng, Changzhou, Jiangsu
Liang Yongchun, Hangzhou, Zhejiang
Yao Bo, Beijing
Wei Zhongping, Xinyu, Jiangxi
Li Sihua, Xinyu, Jiangxi
Wu Danhong, Beijing
Xu Chunliu, Beijing
Li Chunxiao, Chengdu, Sichuan
Xu Yan, Hangzhou, Zhejiang
Wang Jian, Hangzhou, Zhejiang

Of his plans to run, Wang, a CCP member, writes [zh]:


I know there's no way I'll be elected, but at least I can stand together with some brave individuals and make my position heard, to truly speak for the people. My election slogan is: “Why complain about the darkness, when you can light a candle?”

Other Sina Weibo users have been highly supportive of the would-be legislators. A ‘China Election’ account has been set up to monitor candidates’ campaigns [zh] as they gear up, and a group [zh] has been formed on Weibo in which users are posting all sorts of information, from eligibility requirements to campaign procedures and regulations, even suggestions for campaign ads, such as this one, made by one user for Hangzhou candidate Xu Yan:

Vote Xu Yan

One discussion thread [zh] from Weibo reads in part:


-What do you know, the age of independent candidates is here. This is as much a concession on their part as it is spread of the socialist democracy they talk about. It's also in line with the Five Refrains. There are many intelligent people among them. Don't the shitizens want democracy? Fine, no problem, just keep your democracy within the framework of the constitution. But there's one thing they'll absolutely never allow, that being the deadly thing known as freedom.

Shu Kexin, veteran independent campaigner and public policy researcher in Beijing, had this to say [zh] of the flurry of interest in electoral politics:


The people of our country need first to learn to care for their own communities, and from there their own cities, and then their own country. Don't tell me your main concern is your own family, and then go and immigrate to the United States, off to care for the people of North America. Hah.


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