Even though many commentators have suggested that China’s slowing economy poses risks to its political and social stability, GlobeScan’s polling shows that the Chinese public retains a much higher level of trust in their national government than they do in other social institutions.
The degree to which the public trusts different institutions in China may reflect the country’s insular, government-dominated past. China’s sustained economic success over the past two decades is probably a major factor in the public’s continuing faith in the government. The scientists who drive China’s prestige projects, such as its space programme, are also highly trusted. Meanwhile, religious groups and foreign corporations are much less widely trusted.
The government is also the actor with the greatest perceived impact—unsurprising for a body that has driven China’s breakneck change and continues to manage society tightly. China’s state corporations are also considered to be highly impactful. The press is viewed as powerful, but fewer express trust in it to act in society’s best interests.
Large majorities of Chinese agree that there has been progress in the past twenty years socially, economically, and even environmentally, despite rising pollution and controversies over projects such as the Three Gorges Dam. Equally large majorities look forward to similar progress over the next twenty years.
And while in recent months China’s government has been accused of stoking nationalism to distract from its own failings, these figures demonstrate how much loyalty it still commands, and that it retains an unchallenged position at the centre of Chinese society. A limited political transition may be imminent, but those expecting more fundamental change in the world’s second-largest economy may have longer to wait. The government’s status as the primary stakeholder for anyone looking to do business in China seems secure.