Over 70 Chinese independent candidates ran in Chengdu’s city, district and county level elections on Monday. But the independent candidates are complaining that authorities are making things as hard as possible for them, in favor of Communist Party affiliated candidates.
Independent Yan Tafeng says her district was split up into six voting stations, making it hard to monitor the process. Election officials also ended the voting early and were not transparent in the transportation of the ballot papers.
[Yan Tafeng, Independent Candidate]:
"It started at 7:30 and finished at 10:30, it was supposed to finish at 11:00. Our original secretary is now in the election team, he put the voting box into the trunk of a car and had it driven to another location. I asked him many times to disclose where, but he said he didn’t know."
Another independent candidate, Luo Keyin, also complained election officials are intimidating voters.
[Luo Keyin, Independent Candidate]:
"When I was voting, the clerk said to me, 'only choose from the three names at the top of the list.' I chose my own name, and he then proceeded to take a picture of me. Is this not intimidating the everyday people! The ordinary people are afraid. Then a lot of their people came, and the people said 'such a powerful force, forget it, we can't win. Everyone knows the common people are very weak."
Yet the number of independent candidates has set a record, and it's part of a trend that Huang Qi of the online Tianwang Human Rights Service Center thinks could lead to a future democratic China.
[Huang Qi, Tianwang Human Rights Service Center]:
"This time, in the process of elections in Chengdu, the authorities' methods have been exposed to be particularly dark, but it also made people wake up another step. Actually the authorities have sealed off the path for people to take part in politics, so people use other ways to achieve what they want to do. No matter if it's rights, or fighting for democratic rights. So I firmly believe that people can still walk down this road, until the day when China can truly enjoy democratic freedom."
China's leaders are appointed by members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party. The Party does allow local elections, but those elections favor Communist Party affiliated candidates, and it's common for independent candidates to be beaten or kidnapped.