CHINA / National

Programme successful to promote democracy
By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-06 06:04

An inter-governmental programme designed to promote basic level democracy in rural China has been a success, authorities said yesterday.

The EU-China Training Programme on Village Governance is one of the country's largest co-operative projects in the political sector.

It aims to promote the development of village self-governance, improve villagers, elected representatives and officials' understanding and observance of existing laws and regulations, and also improve democratic elections.

"The successful implementation of the programme has promoted the democratic process in rural areas and enhanced the long-term understanding and teamwork between China and Europe," said Chai Xiaolin, a deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce, at yesterday's workshop on village self-governance.

Since its inception in May 2001, the programme has organized 280 training courses and workshops on village elections and transparency in village affairs, with these workshops attended by 30,000 participants, according to William Massolin, the programme's EU co-director.

The programme is set to end in May.

Acclaimed as a "quiet revolution," China's village self-governance system was first introduced in the early 1980s.

In this new rural governance system installed and protected by law, the government relegates administrative power from the rural areas while the villagers are authorized to elect their own village heads and manage and supervise village affairs in an autonomous and democratic manner.

It is also viewed as a significant step in China's politics.

(China Daily 04/06/2006 page2)