One of the most important democratic experiments of the last 25 years has been the movement in 600,000 villages across China toward open, competitive elections, allowing 75 percent of the nation's 1.3 billion people to elect their local leaders, equivalent to city council members in the United States.
For a decade, at the invitation of the Chinese government, The Carter Center has worked to help standardize the vast array of electoral procedures taking place in this new democratic environment and foster better governance in local communities. Today, while continuing to monitor local elections, the program is focused on rural and urban community building, and civic education about rights, laws, and political participation.
Improving U.S.-China Relations
A November 2013 forum launched a new Carter Center project on U.S.-China relations that focuses on reducing misperceptions, promoting greater U.S.-China cooperation in the developing world, and nurturing a young generation of Chinese and Americans to work together to build a stronger foundation for the world's most important bilateral relationship. Ideas generated at the forum will help guide the Center's work in China in the coming years. The project maintains the U.S.-China Perception Monitor website.
Advancing Political Reform
In addition to conducting voter education and monitoring elections for villager committees and local people's congress deputies, the program cooperates with Chinese partners to introduce better election procedures and strengthen the capacity of elected deputies to oversee government performance. The program has formed close relationships with academic and nongovernmental organizations in China to advance political and social change.
Opening Internet Dialogue
Web sites sponsored by The Carter Center have become an important portal for political reform in China, engaging large audiences with articles in both Chinese and English and offering a platform to debate current affairs in a traditionally closed society. The goal of the Web sites, http://www.chinaelections.org/ (Chinese language) and http://chinaelectionsblog.net/ (English language), is to advance better governance and elections in China. The program also supports the Chinese-language National Information Network on Villager Self-Government (http://www.chinarural.org/), which facilitates the administration of local elections and the participation of rural residents in governance.
The Center recognizes that meaningful democracy requires informed and involved citizens. To that end, the program works in rural villages, in cooperation with China's Ministry of Civil Affairs, to expand channels for civic participation and build volunteer corps. In urban areas, the program works with local nongovernmental organizations to address the rights and practical needs of new homeowners.
Access to Information
With implementation of new regulations that give citizens access to government information, China recently marked a turning point toward greater transparency in government operations. To enhance citizen knowledge of their new rights, the Center has created http://www.chinatransparency.org/, an Internet clearinghouse including all of the new regulations and comparative studies of successful access to information practices in other nations. The Center also will create exchanges among access to information officials and scholars in China and other nations.
China elections Web site in Chinese (left) and English (right).
|The Carter Center in China|