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Every five years, Chinese people are given the chance to vote for their local representatives. The largely symbolic election is for the lowest level of governance—the local People's Congresses. This year, an unprecedented number of independent candidates, not backed by the Communist Party, are trying to put their names in the hat. But the ruling Party has already shown that the path ahead may be bumpy for these democratic hopefuls.
In China, a handful of well-known commentators, scholars and activists are hoping to participate in the country's grassroots election this year. But their success, in a mostly symbolic democratic process, remains to be seen. The Communist regime has already signaled its lack of tolerance for independent candidates for the local People's Congresses.
Long-time petitioner Liu Ping from Xingyu in Jiangxi province was one of the first to put up her hand. Her local election—a trial run for the rest of the country—was in May. But her campaign was cut short, after authorities harassed her for her candidacy.
[Liu Ping, Former Local People's Congress Candidate]:
"On May 11, I sent a text to seek outside help, then our electricity was cut off. On the 12th I was arrested, and the next morning they searched my home. They frantically suppressed me, fearing I would represent the people."
The local People's Congress is the lowest level of governance under the Chinese regime. They are elected every five years. Under the Chinese constitution, anyone can run for elections. They just need to be nominated by ten or more voters in their constituency.