DIVERSIFIED VIEWS ON TRYOUTS
Ma Deyong, a political scientist at the Tianjin-based Nankai University, said, "An institutional democracy requires not only environmental but also intrinsic conditions."
"Any tryouts in pushing democracy should be adaptable to diversified situations," Ma said.
Direct elections in Buyun Township have become a topic of controversy as some accuse it of going against existing laws and regulations, as only the township people's congress is entitled to vote for township leaders. Others argue that the election pattern is a demonstration of villagers' direct participation.
In December 2001, the township adjusted the way of electing its chiefs to fall strictly in line with the Constitution and the Organic Law of the Local People's Congresses and Governments at Various Levels.
All voters in the township directly elect the sole candidate for township chief before handing over the result to the township people's congress for a one-candidate election.
In Wenling, people also have different views on the way of grassroots-level democracy.
Those who favor the idea believe it helps common people get more involved in decision making and economic construction and it ensures their rights in a transparent manner. Other people argue that it might risk undermining government authority.
Yu said, "Since grassroots level democracy is still an experiment in process, it might well continue."
"Nevertheless," he said, "it should proceed on the basis of the rule of law, with officials performing their duties according to the law."
The Sichuan and Zhejiang democracy attempts have demonstrated the country's resolve in heading for democracy. It still takes time and practice to know about its value, observers said.