To get rich is glorious, said revered late
leader Deng Xiaoping, and roadside billboards in Jiangsu Province tell
impoverished voters to elect those who will make them wealthy.
In impoverished rural Binghai County in East China's Jiangsu Province, a blue
roadside billboard says it all about politics and prosperity: "Those unable to
get rich won't be elected village cadres; those who can't lead everyone to
wealth are not good cadres."
In rural Jiangsu, this message is replacing those for the one-child families
and compulsory education.
Selecting officials to lead villagers towards a prosperous life is being
popularized in 680,000 villages nationwide.
Democratic supervision to stop power abuse by powerful village heads is
becoming more widespread, and the people's will is becoming stronger.
In booming coastal regions, more than 60 percent of villages have elected
capable village heads. In underdeveloped regions, peasants harken to slogans,
such as "Choosing the right person will enable a village to get rich."
"Making a person's capability of getting rich the criteria to judge a village
head is the choice of the new stage in the history of rural development," said
Liu Shejian, researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
"It is imperative for rural areas, home to 900 million residents, to develop.
Most farmers are poorly educated and they need educated, able people to pool
scattered resources and lead them to wealth," said Liu.
While prosperous villages have been created by able leaders, however,
problems have cropped up due to new village management patterns.
An example: Wanfeng Village in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. Under the
leadership of Pan Qiang'en, in 1984 the village became the first to employ a
joint-stock system and transform the villagers into share holders.
In 2000, the village boasted 1.4 billion yuan (US$173 million) in gross
assets and 350 million yuan in annual sales revenue earned by over a dozen
Though becoming a pace-setter for villages across the nation, the village, or
Wanfeng Group, lost more than 1 billion yuan because of rash decision-making and
dysfunctional operation, with a debt burden of 550,000 yuan for each villager.
Usually, a powerful village head is authorized to allocate resources and act
as an entrepreneur, increasing chances of corruption. Effective supervision is