Harvard survey examines the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party . . .
The U.S.-based Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation released a report this month highlighting findings from a decade-long effort to track Chinese citizens’ satisfaction with government performance. Researchers conducted face-to-face interviews of a nationally representative sample of 31,000 individuals between 2003 and 2016 in eight separate surveys, offering a rare opportunity to understand public sentiment toward the Chinese government. The data reveals a growing satisfaction with the government’s performance, even when observers believed Xi Jinping’s moves toward centralization would undermine domestic support for the CCP. The results also suggest, however, that the CCP cannot take its public support for granted, highlighting areas of concern.
Effective governance the primary driver of public opinion . . .
Specifically, satisfaction in the central government rose from 86 per cent to 93 per cent between 2013 and 2016, indicating that growing inequalities and the slowing economic growth rate have not affected support for the CCP. Moreover, the report shows that satisfaction is correlative to effective governance regarding the environment, public services, and corruption, making those areas key to government support. The satisfaction in the provincial, county, and township levels of government also rose by seven per cent, 22 per cent, and 27 per cent, respectively, with the data suggesting those respondents feel the government is more receptive to ordinary peoples’ concerns (+24 per cent) and are better problem-solvers (+29 per cent).
Public opinion improves amid the pandemic . . .
More recent survey data shows that Chinese public trust in the government surged following the effective control of the initial COVID-19 virus outbreaks, rising between February and May 2020. Canada saw a similar spike in trust in government during COVID-19. In the United States, however, where the COVID-19 virus is spreading more each day, Donald Trump’s support has dropped by 14 points since mid-April. Strong public support is crucial at this time of heightened international tension as it legitimizes government action. It could not come at a better time for the CCP, which is facing growing international criticism for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, among other issues.