Chinese Candidates Harassed in Chengdu Local Elections

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Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan Province, held local elections yesterday. A record number of independent candidates ran, yet they have complained of poor monitoring and intimidation by authorities.

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.

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