Wukan’s Direct Election: Harbinger of democracy in China?

Wukan is a relatively small village (population ca. 20,000) located in Guangdong, China. Wukan’s residents stared to protest against local corruptive officials in September 2011 and the village was finally granted the right to elect their leaders directly. Under the Organic Law of Village Committees, all of China’s approximately 1 million villages are expected to hold competitive, direct elections for subgovernmental village committees. However, the Organic Law does not provide any other guidance on election method. Therefore, nearly all of the local elections are rigged and only “direct” in formality. Wukan’s residents had casted their votes for the village chief in March 2012. Wukan’s democratic experiment is going to challenge those who suspect if Chinese are “ready” for democracy. If the less educated villagers are able to manage direct election well, the argument that democracy is not “feasible” in the country of the largest population in the world is invalid. More importantly, will Wukan be the harbinger of democratization in China? What effect has Wukan delivered to other villages in China? Methodology of this research is based on examination of public documents (digesting local newspapers and broadcasts which are not accessible in the U.S) and a field observational trip, , during which I will record villagers’ public behaviors and possibly local administrative changes brought by the election.