Democracy in Action

Source: PEKING REVIEW Vol.1 No.4, March 25, 1958

Transcribed for

Grandad Chu, a vendor in a Shanghai back alley, is a methodical old man. He keeps a little notebook and jots down all sorts of observations. When the rectification campaign began to unfold in his neighbourhood, he turned to his notebook entries and put up 1.250 tatsepao (wall newspaper opinions written in boldface, poster-size Chinese characters) to voice his opinions and make proposals for improving things.

Grandad Chu is just one among millions exercising the right of free speech to the full OS the rectification campaign now spreads from government offices, organizations and enterprises to the communities, to the housewives and other sections of the population who are not attached to any organization.

The rectification campaign in the communities has a double purpose. First, it is intended to help the Communist Party and the government carry forward the rectification campaign, which means chiefly to educate the functionaries, especially those working at the lower levels of administration; and secondly, to raise the political understanding of the residents, which means to help the residents educate themselves.

The opinions of every man and woman on how to improve ways of doing things and ways of thinking are being sought out actively. The extension of the rectification campaign to the communities and neighbourhoods. Involving many millions, represents a new stage of development of socialist democracy In China.

At present the campaign is in full swing in Shanghai. Millions of tatsepao have been posted. People who couldn’t write got others to help them, or expressed their views orally at meetings.

The criticisms and proposals cover a wide field, from the conduct of doctors and nurses and the way hospitals are run to the services of shop assistants and shopping facilities, the work of the police stations, etc. There have been quick responses to the criticisms advanced, much to the satisfaction of the residents, and the airing of views is going forward with still greater force.

This democratic process is proceeding vigorously in other big cities like Peking. Coupled with the campaign already going on in the government offices and enterprises, it is yielding real results. Some examples follow.

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