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Chinese Perceptions of Democracy

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Chinese SMEs and democracy

An EU-supported study surveyed Chinese business people's views on democracy. The work assumed a link between economic and political attitudes, and involved discussions about the topic, including connection to the rule of law.

Industrial Technologies

China has never been a democracy and its people have no educational tradition on the subject. Certain Chinese studies indicate popular endorsement for China's one-party system based on economic performance, while also suggesting high-level interest in democracy. The EU-funded CHINESEDEMOCRACY (Chinese perceptions of democracy) project aimed to investigate the contradiction. The purpose was to predict future political reforms by determining the views of particular Chinese population segments. The research was conducted in conjunction with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, an official government body. Researchers surveyed Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 24 provinces during the first half of 2014. The goal was to document the changing economic situation of SMEs, thereby explaining the supposedly changing political views. The team distributed over 1 000 questionnaires, of which fewer than half were effective. Researchers presented such results at Chinese workshops, and reviewed earlier research on changing perceptions of democracy. Workshop discussions included differences between Chinese and western people on the subject, and the relationship between democracy and the rule of law. Project members taught two graduate courses on the topic, which served to foster discussion and raise possibilities. The same course also clarified power structures with regard to Chinese business owners. CHINESEDEMOCRACY helped the EU develop engagement strategies with China and other authoritarian regimes.


SMEs, democracy, rule of law, China, economic performance, Chinese perceptions, political reforms

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