Many European universities have strong interests in issues affecting China, in addition to research relationships with Chinese organisations. One critical topic is that of democracy, and the likelihood of China ever attaining it. The EU-funded project 'Chinese perceptions of democracy' (CHINESEDEMOCRACY) was a collaboration between the University of Nottingham and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The goals of the two-year study were to examine Chinese perceptions of democracy via interviews, and to predict the direction of Chinese political reforms. The undertaking concluded in December 2013. Project partners conducted field interviews in China, over several phases. The pilot survey began in early 2012, centred on three Chinese cities. The purpose was to assess the interviewees' responses to the research topics and questions. Thirteen interviews were conducted. The project held an expanded round of interviews later that year in five Chinese provinces. The team conducted 62 interviews, surveying 3 social levels: government officials, business owners and the 'lower classes'. The information was used for qualitative analysis and questionnaire redesign. Between March and September 2013, the project questioned a sample of entrepreneurs. Around 300 individuals responded. The data were analysed quantitatively to assess factors affecting the respondents' attitudes towards support for the state and political liberalisation. Late completion of the analysis resulted in a planned conference presentation being cancelled. The reason for the delay was the political sensitivity of the topic. A revised version of the proposed paper containing policy recommendations was planned for submission to the Chinese government and other Chinese agencies. The results of the CHINESEDEMOCRACY study helped to enhance the reputation of Nottingham University's School of Contemporary Chinese Studies. The information obtained will also help EU and other agencies address policy and business issues relevant to China.
Chinese, democracy, liberalisation, social sciences, political reforms