About half of Chinese people like American ideas about democracy, according to a new Pew Global Attitudes survey that also reveals growing anxiety about corruption and inequality.
The survey shows a dramatic decline in the number of people rejecting American democratic ideas, from 36 percent in 2007 to 29 percent today.
“While the appeal of Western democracy has been enhanced, Chinese people have no intention and they haven’t the political will to challenge the existing regime,” said Joseph Cheng, a political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong. “Chinese people understand that their living standards have been improving in the past 30 years and more and they still expect further improvements in the coming decade.”
“The new attitudes highlight the challenges China’s new leadership will face when it assumes power in a once-in-a-decade transition next month,” AP reports:
China’s runaway growth in recent decades has led to a yawning gap between rich and poor and worsening pollution. The Communist Party has said repeatedly that pervasive corruption threatens its hold on power.
Most Chinese say they are better off financially, according to the Pew survey, but inflation remains their top concern, with 60 percent saying it’s a “very big problem,” though that figure was down from 72 percent in 2008.
Half of the respondents said corrupt officials are a major problem, up from 39 percent four years ago. The gap between rich and poor was the third biggest concern, with 48 percent of respondents citing it, up from 41 percent in 2008.
“Even as the people are making progress they are increasingly dissatisfied with problems in the country,” said Richard Wike, associate director for Pew’s Global Attitudes Project. “A lot of these concerns we’re seeing revolve around the concept of fairness,” he said
Quality of life issues are emerging as popular priorities as average incomes and leisure time both increase, said Steve Tsang, a professor of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham.
“People have to live with them on a daily basis,” he said. “When one was too busy making a living to get bothered by them in the past, less attention was paid to them. Now that the overall standard of living has improved and individuals have more scope to slow down and reflect a bit, the poor quality of life becomes more of an issue.”