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China's ethnic region experiments with democratic election
2005-07-26 02:53:25 Xinhua English

URUMQI, July 26 (Xinhuanet) -- The practice of democratic electionof village heads in rural China has been introduced in grass-roots Party organizations in regions inhabited by ethnic minorities.

Shan Haibin, 24, was elected the new secretary of the Shaliangwan Village Branch of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at a Mongolian-inhabited area in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in such an election recently.

Appreciating the new electoral mechanism, Shan said, "Through what I have done in the village, villagers and other Party members think that I'm capable of leading villagers to boost economic growth, and that's why they elected me."

Shan went through three steps before he was elected the new secretary of the village Party branch.

Firstly, 16 candidates were recommended by all Party members inthe village. Then 28 representatives chosen by non-Party villagers cast votes for the 16 candidates. Six candidates were picked up onthe basis of nominations by Party members and non-Party villagers. Finally, the new sectary of the village Party branch was elected at a meeting attended by all Party members in the village.

In rural China, the Party branch of a village holds the responsibility of drawing economic and social development plans and leads the villager's committee, a self-governance grass-roots organization.

In the past, ordinary villagers had no right of vote on candidates competing for the Party secretary in a village.

"Voting by ordinary villagers indicates that common people havea say in the election of Party leaders and this is more democratic than the previous practice which chooses the Party branch secretary through appointment by a higher Party organization," said a villager.

Ma Dongping, a villager of Hui nationality, said, "The new election mechanism will reflect the opinions of most villagers."

Ma said, he was "quite satisfied" with the new Party secretary."

Located in Heshuo County of Bayan Gol Mongolia Autonomous Prefecture, in southern Xinjiang, Shaliangwan Village has a population of 786, over 80 percent of whom are of Hui nationality,15 percent of Han nationality and four percent are Uygurs.

The new Party branch comprises Party members of Hui and Han nationalities.

According to an official with the regional government, the practice has been adopted by Party branches in some other placesin Xinjiang.

"The new way of election for the Party secretary at the village-level Party branch is driven by the successful practice ofself-governance of villagers in China's rural areas, and it will undoubtedly strengthen our grass-roots democracy," said Zhyan Chengfu, an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

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