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Project Chronology: 1990-1999

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1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996

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December 1999: The Carter Center sponsors a training of election officials in Baoding Municipality, Hebei Province. Baoding is the fifth largest city in China with a population of 10 million. A total of 220 officials, including leaders from municipal and county levels, participate in the training. Besides attending seminars on the newly adopted Organic Law of Villager Committees and electoral procedures and watching television documentaries on several villager committee elections, participants of the training also conduct a mock villager committee election among themselves.

September 1999: Dr. Yawei Liu and Mr. Thomas Crick work with the Time-Warner newstour to observe a villager committee election in Liujiachang Village, Xiantao City, Hubei Province. During the visit, Yawei and Tom also visit Changsha, Hunan. They have meetings with the officials of the Hunan Department of Civil Affairs, observe how the data-gathering system work in a district office and talk with students and teachers at Changsha Institute of Civil Affairs that have recently conducted data verification survey in 120 villages in Hunan during the summer.

June – September 1999: In cooperation with the Hunan Department of Civil Affairs and Changsha Institute of Civil Affairs, The Carter Center sponsors an independent data verification project in 120 villages in 40 counties in Hunan where computers are installed. A total of 124 students and teachers from Changsha Institute of Civil Affairs participate in the sampling survey. A total of 355 data verification survey forms and 115 forms with original election data are collected. All 120 student participants write an essay on their experience during the survey and their assessment of the village election.

June 1999: Mr. Charles E. Costello, Director of Democracy Program and Dr. Yawei Liu, Associate Director of the China Village Election Project, visit Beijing and sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the MCA. This MOU outlines the cooperative activities between the Center and the MCA in late 1999 and early 2000. Some highlights of the MOU include installing 40 computers in Hunan Province, conducting an independent data verification of villager committee elections in Hunan and sponsoring a training of village election officials in late 1999.

A symposium is organized by the MCA in Beijing to evaluate the pilot phase of the Project. Seven Chinese leading experts on village-level democracy, all officials of the Rural Division of the Department of the Basic-level Governance, including Director-General Zhang Mingliang and MCA officials in charge of data and statistics attend the meeting. 

Dr. Yawei Liu from the Center and representatives from the Center's consulting firm, GC Information, Ltd. also participate in the symposium. The MCA submits a 26-page report to the symposium which contains an assessment of the software designed by GC Information, Ltd., an analysis of the data gathered from 3,267 villages and a brief outline of future cooperative activities between the Center and the MCA

January 1999:

A Carter Center team visits Beijing and Chongqing municipality. In Beijing, the team meets with senior officials of the National People's Congress (NPC). In Chongqing, the team observes direct elections of township people's congress (TPC) deputies in Zhujiaqiao and Banqiao villages and observes the nomination and election of the chairman and vice-chairman of the township presidium as well as township magistrate and vice-magistrates by TPC deputies in Baoding Township. This is the first-ever international observation of elections for government officials in China.


November 1998: A Carter Center team visits Beijing, Changsha, Hunan and Wuhan, Hubei. In Beijing, they discuss with MCA officials and scholars about the newly adopted Organic Law of Villager Committees and the next steps of the pilot project. In Wuhan, they visit China's leading research institute on rural reforms--The Institute on Rural Affairs of Central China Normal University. In Changsha, they observe the training of 158 county and municipal election officials on electoral procedures and data-gathering system. This province-wide training, the first ever in China, is supported partially by The Carter Center.

August – September 1998: A Carter Center team visits Beijing, reviewing village elections data at the MCA and observing the training of computer operators for the pilot project. The training, funded by The Carter Center, is held from August 31 to September 5 at the Information Center of the MCA in Beijing.

August: 1998: Sponsored by The United States Information Agency and The Carter Center, an MCA delegation visits the United States. During its stay in Atlanta, the delegation observes the Georgia primary runoff elections, participates in seminars on U.S. electoral system and offers briefing on China's village elections.

June - July 1998: A Carter Center team returns to China to begin implementation of a pilot computer system to transfer data on village elections from nine pilot counties in three pilot provinces: Jilin, Hunan and Fujian.

March 1998: A 9-person team led by Dr. Pastor observes elections in 7 villages and interviews officials of 2 villages where elections had just been conducted in Jilin and Liaoning provinces.

Memorandum of Understanding is signed by Dr. Pastor on behalf of The Carter Center and by Mr. Xu Liugen, Director-General of the Department of International Affairs of the MCA. The agreement envisages long-term cooperation in three main areas: design and implementation of a national computer system to collect village elections data; standardization of electoral procedures; and exchanges and publicizing Chinese village elections.


July - September 1997: President Carter and Minister of the MCA, Duoji Cairang exchange letters to consolidate the agreement on cooperation between The Carter Center and the MCA.

July - August 1997: President Carter, former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, Stanford University Professor Dr. Michel Oksenberg, and Dr. Pastor visit China for talks with President Jiang Zemin and other high-level officials on Sino-US cooperation, village elections and possible cooperation between The Carter Center and China.

March 1997: A 7-person international delegation led by Dr. Pastor observes village committee elections in Fujian and Hebei provinces and holds discussions in Beijing.


November 1996: An expert meeting at The Carter Center, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and Dr. Pastor, is held to discuss establishing a new initiative with the People's 
Republic of China. A three-phase project is identified.

September 1996: The Carter Center is invited by the Department of Basic Level Governance at the MCA to observe and advise the spring 1997 village committee elections in Fujian province.

July 1996: Dr. Robert Pastor, Carter Center Fellow, holds intensive meetings with senior officials in the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) on comparative election experiences, visits 3 villages in Shandong province and interviews numerous officials and villagers on village elections.

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