When residents of a few Guangxi villages decided to elect their own leaders in late 1980 and early 1981, none of them could have known they were starting a historic reform. What began as a stopgap effort to fill a political vacuum, after much debate and two decades of uneven implementation, is now enshrined in a national law. Procedures for holding elections have been spelled out and implementing regulations are being formulated at all levels. Voting is now mandatory every three years in every village, bar none.
For generous financial support, we would like to thank the Asia Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, The Research and Writing Program of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Pacific Cultural Foundation, and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.