Carter Center team returns
to China as election observers
At the invitation of the government of the People's Republic of China,
The Carter Center will send a delegation to observe village elections March
2-15. In addition to evaluating village elections in Jilin and Lianing provinces,
the nine-person team, led by Carter Center Fellow Robert Pastor, will also
discuss a long-term agreement with the Ministry of Civil Affairs on election-related
The mission will be the fourth visit by a Carter Center group in the
past two years to discuss, observe or advise the Chinese government on elections.
In March 1997 Pastor led a seven-person delegation to observe village elections
in Fujian and Hebei provinces, and last July former President Jimmy Carter,
former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, Stanford University Professor Michel Oksenberg
and Pastor visited Beijing for talks with President Jiang Zemin and other
At a luncheon hosted by U.S. Ambassador James Sasser, Carter and Doje
Cering, the minister of Civil Affairs, discussed further cooperation between
the ministry and The Carter Center.
In a subsequent meeting, Vice Minister Xu Ruixin and Pastor discussed
the projects, which include training of Chinese election officials in the
United States and China by The Carter Center and high-level visits by ministry
officials to the United States; development of a national computer system
for collecting data and results on village elections; and advice from The
Carter Center on developing uniform election procedures, producing civic
education programs, publicizing election information in China, and disseminating
analyses of Chinese elections in the United States and elsewhere.
Carter and the ministry confirmed the understanding with an exchange
of letters. "We were pleased by our meetings in Beijing and by the
government's continuing interest to improve the electoral process and develop
a cooperative relationship with The Carter Center on election-related issues,"
said Carter. "The Carter Center's team will present proposals in these
three areas, and we hope their discussions lead to a long-term agreement."
"Our team brings expertise in each of the areas," said Pastor.
Jean Oi of Stanford University is one of the foremost experts on Chinese
villages and Larry Diamond on elections and democracy throughout the world.
Qingshan Tan and Tom Crick have worked on numerous elections with The Carter
Center and are developing proposals on training and exchanges. Yawei Liu
is coordinating an international team to develop a system that would permit
the Ministry of Civil Affairs to collect and computerize election data.
Also accompanying the group are photographer Jeffrey Aaronson and film-makers
Sharon Baker and Pascall Dieckmann.
"We welcome the Chinese government's invitation to help improve
the technical capacity of the villages to conduct competitive elections
based on secret ballot," said Pastor. "If these elections can
be improved and standardized throughout the nation, then they can be a strong
foundation on which the government's plans for future higher-level elections
to February 23, 1998 Contents Page