[JURIST] The Chinese National People's Congress (NPC) [official website, in Chinese] on Monday opened consideration of election reforms designed to afford equal representation to residents of rural and urban administrative areas. China's current electoral law provides more congressional representatives to residents of urban districts than residents of rural ones. The draft amendment aims to eliminate the disparity in representation. Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee Wang Zhaoguo offered this rationale [text] for the presentation of the draft amendment:
Since 1995, China's industrialization and urbanization have accelerated further, the economic and cultural level in rural areas has increased dramatically, and profound changes have taken place in the social structure. The urban population in China has increased from 29.04% in 1995 to 46.6% in 2009. At the same time, people's congresses at all levels have gone through many terms of elections, accumulated abundant experience, achieved enormous results in developing socialist democratic politics and a socialist legal system, and the class base and mass foundation for the people's democratic dictatorship led by the Party has been consolidated and expanded. The objective conditions are in place for revising the Electoral Law and electing deputies to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas.
Currently, 960,000 rural residents receive the same representation as 240,000 urban residents, leading to calls for reform.
Deliberation over the measure will continue in the Third Session [official website] of the Eleventh National People's Congress from March 5-14 in Beijing. Also on the agenda [text] are budgetary, social, and economic development measures. Despite reforms, China continues to face international criticism over human rights issues. The government decided in February to tighten restrictions [JURIST report] on Internet use. China has also received criticism for its treatment of rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], who was last seen in public on February 4, 2009.