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“What Kind of Democracy do Chinese People Want? Chinese Perceptions of Democracy Reconsidered” by Duancheng Yang & Yuan Zhou
May 26, 2021 @ 9:00 am – 10:00 am JST
Abstract: Popular perceptions of democracy are vital for democratization in authoritarian counties but have been understudied. The Chinese Communist Party frequently emphasizes democracy with Chinese characteristics, however, what kind of democracy do Chinese people want? This study sets out to examine how the Chinese people think about democracy using a nationwide survey in 2015-2016. We combine Bayesian modeling and automated text analysis methods to explore the relationship between citizens’ characteristics and their answers to open-ended questions on democracy. Our findings could be divided into two parts. First, Chinese people with higher education level, more frequent internet usage, and higher household income, are more likely to express their views on democracy. However, while education level and income have significant effects on how people think about democracy, there is no evidence that internet usage per se can change people’s minds. Second, liberal and consultative democracy, rather than minben democracy, are the two main kinds of democratic perceptions among ordinary Chinese people, and both of them belong to procedural-oriented democracy. These findings can contribute to a better understanding of China’s future democratic development.