Officials praise direct elections in villages
( 2003-11-04 22:12) (China Daily)
The successful implementation of direct elections in rural areas has greatly improved people's enthusiasm for participating in government and political affairs, participants of a national seminar said in Beijing yesterday.
In recent years, national efforts to enhance the function of village committees have begun to bear fruit and the days when rural people's destiny was simply decided by administrative directions have gone, said Chen Jiechang, vice-minister of civil affairs who attended the seminar on villager autonomy.
More than 80 per cent of franchised villagers have participated in village committee elections which have produced a number of educated, skilled and ambitious village leaders, Chen said at the seminar to mark the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Organic Law of Villagers' Committees.
The country has more than 680,000 village committees, with more than 2.9 million officials working in those committees, ministry statistics show.
The National People's Congress (NPC) formally implemented the Organic Law of Villagers' Committees in 1998, on the basis of an 11-year trial code on villager autonomy.
"The democratic election of village leaders is only the first step, and the work of villagers' committees needs to be standardized to promote rural economic and social progress,'' Chen said.
The committees should always be development-focussed and make public affairs and financial information transparent, Chen said.
To most rural residents, selecting committee members who can lead them towards a better future is one of the most important things in their lives, said Gu Xiulian, vice-chairperson of the NPC.
More and more villagers have begun participating in the build-up of democracy in a pragmatic way and their actions prove that the democratic system is a tremendous cohesive force which helps people make the right choices about their villages, Gu said.
Lu Liangzhong, director of the civil affairs bureau of Beijing's Changping District, said that the successful undertaking of villager autonomy will lay a solid foundation for the country's development of democracy.
Lu's district and another 224 counties, cities and districts have been recognized by the Ministry of Civil Affairs as models of villager autonomy across the country.
Thanks to the astounding achievements made on economic and social fronts in China over the past few years, ordinary people can now focus on bigger issues like government building, democracy promotion and individual rights protection, Lu said.
"We have reason to hope that more and more people will attach greater attention to their right to vote and safeguard their lawful right to supervise the actions of the officials they have elected,'' he said.
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