Chinese Vote Engineered, Experts Say

Non-Communist Gains 'No Threat' to Leadership

Non-communist gains in election held in the People's Republic of China last week do not represent any threat to the ruling communist leadership, analysts at Harvard and the State Department said yesterday.

The Chinese Government announced Thursday that candidates not affiliated with the official Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had won 38 per cent of the vote in Peking district elections.

The results reflect the leadership's willingness to accept non-communist political participation, but do not mean opposition to the CCP will be tolerated, Roy M. Hofheinz Jr., professor of Government, said yesterday.

It is still not known how the elections were run, nor who the winners are, nor how much influence they will have, a State Department source said, adding that the local congresses are of questionable power.

Although local councils have some authority, the political system in China is still organized "from top to bottom," Hofheinz said.


The election was probably "engineered or guided by the leadership," and the results do not reflect any popular threat to its stability, Patrick G. Maddox, director of External Affairs for the Council on East Asian Studies, said yesterday.

The "non-communist" election winners are not "anti-communist" but simply not members of the CCP, Hofheinz said. Only about 4 per cent of China's population are actual party memebrs, he added.

There are no legally sanctioned opposition parties, Maddox said, adding that the "non-communist" winners are probably good citizens and local heroes.

China is trying to appear "more like a legalistic modern state, to seem like a democracy without taking the risks," he said.

"Frankly, the leadership wants us to think they are liberalizing more than they are," Maddox said, adding that the elections were a gesture directed both internally and externally.

Internally, the election was intended as a "pressure valve" to relieve domestic tensions Maddox said. Tensions recently surfaced during the trial of a political dissident, he added.


The elections also represent a government effort to "promote a greater sense of participation" and generate popular enthusiasm for its modernization program, the State Department analyst said.

The elections are a step toward the normalization of the political process in a way consistent with CCP history, Hofheinz said.