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Record Number of Beijing Residents Declare Their Independent Candidacy for Local People’s Congress Seats

China Change, October 22, 2016

“Participation is the simplest, most direct, most realistic, and most effective political action.” — Yao Lifa, 2016

“Actually, the result is not what is most important. What’s most important is to take part. I hope that my participation will tell everyone: Believe in our laws, believe in the progress of this era. Please believe that we have a genuine right to vote.” — Xu Zhiyong, 2003

 

Update on November 17: 5-minute BBC video tells everything you need to know about Chinese elections.

 

This year, 2016, is an election year in China: every five years, Chinese citizens elect their people’s representatives (PR), and the vote is on November 15. In Beijing, over 70 people have declared that they are taking part in the elections as “independents,” candidates not recommended by the Party or Party-controlled organizations. On October 14, 18 Beijing residents issued a statement: 

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….As long-time and grassroots residents, we know very well how difficult it is to communicate with our government, the People’s Congress, the courts, and the Procuratorate. We do whatever we can to locate and talk to our People’s Representatives, but to no avail. … As the district- and county-level election for People’s Congress is getting underway, we have a strong desire to be People’s Representatives! We will make sure that everyone — neighbors, the old and the young — can talk to us anytime. We are willing to speak for you and serve you. Please cast your votes for us, giving us the opportunity to sincerely represent your interests and fulfill our duty.     

On October 17, another 32 Beijing residents announced their candidacy for PR, and made a similar promise: They will make sure every voter knows who they are and how to reach them with their problems, and as their representatives, they will monitor the government and its functions. As of last Thursday, the number has grown to 54.

In Shanghai, the renowned rights defender Feng Zhenghu posted an open letter to the voters of his constituency on October 5, announcing his candidacy for PR. He promises to “defend the Constitution, defend the implementation of law in the constituency, and defend the civil rights of constituents.” He said he is “participating in the political process for the sake of the people,” and he asked the residents not to give up their right to vote.

China Change spoke to Mr. He Depu (何德普), one of the 70 or so independent candidates in Beijing, on Friday. He said, any citizen has the right to vote and the right to be elected, and he or she only needs the recommendation of ten voters to register as a candidate. But in reality, there are many hurdles for candidates not recommended by the Communist Party, or by an organization (which is still controlled by the Party), to be selected as an official candidate. In addition, he said, the government has internal instructions to limit and exclude ordinary citizens from taking part.

Mr. He said that the first time he took part in the People’s Representative elections was in the fall of 1980, when he was a young worker in a factory in Beijing. “According to my experience in competing for the District PR in 1980,” he wrote in an article a few years ago, “the candidates recommended by ordinary citizens had the same chance as the candidates recommended by the political parties and organizations in the first round of selection. But the problem is, when it gets to the process of choosing the official candidates from the initial pool of candidates, which lasted only about 10 days, the current law and rules are stacked heavily against the independent candidates.”  

Indeed, the Chinese government makes its attitude towards citizens trying to compete for PR seats very clear by harassing them and sometimes throwing them in jail. Last week, police in Beijing prevented independent candidate Ye Jinghuan (野靖环)* from being interviewed by Japanese journalists. In Jiangxi province, independent candidate Yang Wei (杨微) was taken away by security guards when he went to the local People’s Congress to get a candidate recommendation form, and later given a 10-day administrative detention. In Hunan, dissident Guan Guilin (管桂林) has been detained for “disrupting an election” after he attempted to register as an independent candidate in his township in September.  

This June in Yongjing county, Gans Province (甘肃永靖), the human rights defender Qu Mingxue (瞿明学) and a number of others were detained for over a month after they recommended a number of independent candidates. On October 16, the netease blog “China Election Observation” (中国选举观察) by Yao Lifa (姚立法), an expert on elections in China and former People’s Representative in Qianjiang, Hubei Province (湖北潜江), was erased. It has been a platform that Yao has been using to publicize and promote grassroots elections in China for years. His recent “Open Letter to Voters Nationwide,” in which he explained the 19 rights citizens have with regard to elections, and outlined details of election procedures, was also purged from domestic websites.

In 2011, the year the last PR elections were held, the 13 independent candidates were all harassed, surveilled, summoned to speak with police, and even abducted following the announcement of their candidacy. They held a few campaign events in the beginning that were tightly controlled by police, but all the rest were disrupted by the authorities or unable to be held because the candidates had been detained in some manner. Of the 13, only Han Ying (韩颖), an NGO worker in Haidian District, was able to enter the primary election (the process between being nominated and becoming a formal candidate). Han Ying told the media that she had “been coercively told to drop out of the race,” and that her phone had been stolen, she’d been “illegally searched, illegally detained, subjected to forced interrogations through the night,” and had her freedom so restricted that she “simply couldn’t do anything.” In the fall of 2014, Han Ying was detained for several months for openly supporting the Occupy Movement in Hong Kong.

In 2011 another independent candidate from Haidian District, the leader of the New Citizens Movement, Xu Zhiyong (许志永), sought to extend his term as a People’s Representative. Students who supported him sent text messages telling him that they were pressured by the university authorities to instead support the university president. Xu Zhiyong implored his supporters to, on the day of the election, directly write his name on the ballot in the “other candidate” column. Xu was arrested and sentenced to four years imprisonment in 2013 for his support for educational equality and calling for officials to make public their personal assets.

Liu Ping (刘萍) from Jiangxi Province was detained and tortured for declaring her independent candidacy; in 2014 she was sentenced to six and a half years imprisonment for her involvement in the New Citizens Movement.

Sun Wenguang (孙文广), a retired professor from Shandong University, has participated in People’s Representative elections three times as an independent candidate. He recently spoke to Radio Free Asia: “Why do the authorities so fear independent candidates? One reason is because the regime is a one-party dictatorship, and people standing up to participate in elections is seen as a challenge. The other is that those who act as independent candidates will definitely represent views that aren’t in line with the Communist Party’s. They might criticize the authorities, or go around speaking to crowds, place posters, and represent their political views — and this isn’t allowed.”

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On Wednesday October 19, about 30 independent candidates from Beijing gathered in the garden outside the Beijing Municipal Government headquarters, spreading awareness about election law and procedure, and discussing their election tactics. He Depu, who will be taken away from Beijing by police to “travel” until October 28, told China Change that those participating in elections this year are people with a strong sense of civic responsibility. They’re enthusiastic about serving voters, and they dare to face off against the government’s pressure.

Mr. He added: “We don’t know who our People’s Representatives are, and we don’t know what they’re doing. So our undertaking is very basic: if we’re elected, we’ll let all voters know who we are, and we’ll truly represent their interests.”

Starting October 24, candidates from the group of 18 will be campaigning in front of their neighborhood committees. Many of them have been visited by police.

*Ye Jinghuan is the author of a memoir titled “A Worthwhile Trip—A Documentation of Beijing Reeducation-through-Labor Dispatch Center.” China Change has a translation of Teng Biao’s preface to it – “To Remember Is to Resist.”


Related:

Beijie Village: a Land Grab Case, a Village Election, and a Microcosm of China, December 16, 2014


14 Comments

  1. China Change says:

    Campaign schedule of candidates:

    北京18名独立候选人宣传活动日程表
    自2016年10月24日起,独立候选人分别在所属居委会、村委会门前进行参选宣传,其他人作为助选人参加。

    1、杨凌云 10月24日星期一上午9点
    地址:东城区景泰东里居委会(景泰东里小区5号楼)
    居委会电话:52172786
    杨凌云电话:13718206402
    交通路线:T11、7路、525路,琉璃井站下车就是。

    2、郑威 10月25日星期二上午9点
    地点:东城区隆福寺居委会门前
    郑威电话:13520114330
    居委会电话:84014007
    居委会地址:东城区钱粮胡同内钱粮南巷12号
    交通路线:106、116、684到钱粮胡同下车。

    3、刘秀贞 10月25日星期二下午2点
    地址:东城区交道口大兴胡同居委会
    居委会电话:64079116
    刘秀贞手机:13263368028
    交通路线:118、104、113、特11,交道口站下车,北吉祥胡同内。

    4、张善根 郭树梅 10月26日上午 星期三 9点
    地址:东城区多福巷社区居委会
    居委会电话:65288453
    张善根手机:13718342112
    郭树梅手机:13693363440
    交通路线:公交车 111,1O9,美术馆下车,到华侨大厦南
    边的胡同往里走,拐2个弯就到了。

    5、周秀玲 10月26日下午2点
    地址:东城区景山街道黄化门居委会
    居委会电话 :64011598
    周秀玲电话 :13693093077
    交通路线:111路,124路,地安门内下车, 在路东下车往回走,看见加油站旁边胡同,黄化门胡同往东走就看见了。

    6、王秀珍 10月27日上午9点
    朝阳区新源里社区居委会门前。
    新源街21号附近。
    王秀珍手机:13521914026
    居委会电话:84486011
    乘车路线:110,120,132,675,3路,新源里站下车。往北见路口向右走,在小区内。

    7、庞银平 10月27日下午2点
    地址:朝阳区三里屯甲1号北三里社区居委会。
    居委会电话:64177960
    庞银平电话:13021027457
    交通路线:110,120,403,107,公交车工人体育场下车,路东的公交车站向北走一点,进大月亮门。

    8、李海荣 李德金 郭启增
    10月28日 星期五 上午9点
    地点 : 朝阳区十八里店乡十八里店村委会门前
    村委会电话:67472655
    李海荣电话:13717564410
    李德金电话:13552100218
    郭启增电话:13520570312
    乘车路线:440路 621路 638路 976路 986路 378路 602路十八里店南站下车前行400米到环岛右转,看见东方大学的牌子左转100米即到。

    9、朱秀玲 陈平玉10月31日上午9点
    地点:朝阳区定福庄西村、定福庄东村委会门前
    朱秀玲电话:15601165718
    陈平玉电话:13141204061
    三间房乡政府电话:65420015
    村委会地址:聚福苑小区1号楼北门底商。
    交通路线:快速公交2号线定福庄站路北聚福苑小区,最北面的楼。

    10、高昌奇 智琴 10月31日下午2点
    地点:朝阳区三间房乡三东村村委会门前
    高昌奇电话:13241714811
    智琴电话:15011170195
    三间房乡政府电话:65420015
    村委会地址:泰福苑小区3区5号楼底商。
    交通路线:地铁6号线黄渠村站、公交499或675路黄渠村站。

    11、范素君 11月1日上午9点
    地址:西城区府右街南社区
    范素君手机:13910057414
    居委会电话:66088007
    交通路线:4号地铁到灵境胡同下車C口也就是东南口,出来就是。公交有1O2、109、105、西单商厂下車。

    12、野靖环 11月2日星期三上午9点
    地址:西城区广安门外红莲中里居委会 门前
    交通路线:80路公交车小红庙终点站,河西平房就是。
    野靖环手机:13621293734
    居委会电话:63264398

  2. […] 来源: Record Number of Beijing Residents Declare Their Independent Candidacy for Local People’s Congress… […]

  3. […] on November 15. Independent candidates have sprung up everywhere, and China Change recently ran an article about the independent candidates from Beijing, including the group of 18 organized by Beijing […]

  4. […] Record Number of Beijing Residents Declare Their Independent Candidacy for Local People’s Congress… China Change, October 22, 2016 […]

  5. […] is one of 58 independent candidates in Beijing who have joined together to declare their intentions publicly. Most are what is known in China as “petitioners,” people who have suffered injustice at the […]

  6. […] was Election Day in Beijing, with thousands of seats for party-run local congresses up for grabs. Outside community centers and police stations, […]

  7. […] was Election Day in Beijing, with thousands of seats for party-run local congresses up for grabs. Outside community centers and police stations, […]

  8. […] was Election Day in Beijing, with thousands of seats for party-run local congresses up for grabs. Outside community centers and police stations, […]

  9. […] was Election Day in Beijing, with thousands of seats for party-run local congresses up for grabs. Outside community centers and police stations, […]

  10. […] was Election Day in Beijing, with thousands of seats for party-run local congresses up for grabs. Outside community centers and police stations, […]

  11. […] was Election Day in Beijing, with thousands of seats for party-run local congresses up for grabs. Outside community centers and police stations, […]

  12. […] grassroots elections for county-district level People’s Representatives on November 15. In a joint statement, Ms. Liu and other independent candidates promised that “they will make sure every voter knows […]

  13. […] A record number of Beijing residents declared their intention to run as independents in this year’s election. Despite having the constitutional right to run for candidacy, independents are often barred by nervous local governments from campaigning and subject to various forms of harassment and intimidation. An author at The Economist looks at the experiences of some of these independent candidates: […]

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