We Asked You: Public Opinion and Consultation in China

59 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2017

See all articles by Dimitar D. Gueorguiev

Dimitar D. Gueorguiev

Syracuse University - Department of Political Science

Sinan Chu

GIGA Institute of Asian Studies; Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 27, 2016

Abstract

China’s leaders describe their system of rule as “consultative democracy”, whereby the public, forbidden from organizing on matters of politics, is encouraged to participate on issues of policy. In particular, citizens are routinely solicited for input on upcoming policy debates. But are public inputs incorporated into policy outputs or is it all ‘window-dressing’? In pursuit of an answer, we employ an online survey designed to measure public preferences on a range of policies recently debated by China’s National People’s Congress (NPC). Next, we compare final policy decisions, based on whether or not they were opened for public consultation, for evidence of convergence between public opinion and policy choices. Our findings suggest that consultation is associated with more popular policy choices. To check for robustness, we pair our measures of policy preference with latent measures of ideology from our survey, and outside surveys, to extrapolate a predicted ’public opinion’ for the broader Chinese constituency. While we cannot discount the possibility that topics were selectively opened to public input, closer examination of public opinion distributions does not support this interpretation.

Keywords: China, Participation, Public Opinion, Policymaking, Consultation, Autocracy, Ideology

Suggested Citation

Gueorguiev, Dimitar D. and Chu, Sinan, We Asked You: Public Opinion and Consultation in China (August 27, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2941699 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2941699

Dimitar D. Gueorguiev (Contact Author)

Syracuse University - Department of Political Science ( email )

100 Eggers Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
United States
3154430309 (Phone)

Sinan Chu

GIGA Institute of Asian Studies ( email )

Rothenbaumchaussee 32
Hamburg, 20148
Germany

Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Department of Political Science ( email )

Syracuse, NY
United States

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