China's grassroots democracy, explained

Does China have direct elections? Recently, the convening of China's Two Sessions, the biggest annual event on China's political calendar, triggered another wave of reports by Western mainstream media, questioning the country's political system. Some outlets in other countries raised doubt on the effectiveness of the country's grassroots democracy – especially in rural areas. There have been concerns that the overall educational level of villagers does not allow them to fully understand the meaning and importance of direct elections. Is it really the case? What is democracy at the grassroots level like? Should we only accept the definition provided by a select number of Western countries? In this episode, we spoke with Shen Rui, who has experience working in Kuijiu Village, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Sichuan Province, as a poverty alleviation commissioner. Liangshan used to be one of the three poorest prefectures in China. We asked Shen about his first-person account of what it is like working in the rural area, as well as the current status of grassroots democracy in his eyes.

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