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Chinese Perceptions of Democracy

Final Report Summary - CHINESEDEMOCRACY (Chinese Perceptions of Democracy)

Dr. Yanhong Liu started her Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies (SCCS), University of Nottingham on 19th, December 2011. The school provided a shared office, computer, and other accessories, to enable Dr. Liu’s smooth transition into the academic life in the UK. Meanwhile, Dr. Liu started formulating research protocols planned for data collection under the supervision of Dr. Zhengxu Wang, the executive manager of the project. In the two years the project was executed through the following components.

Data Collection and Fieldwork

The Researcher started data collection work in in China in March 2012. This included a first round in-depth interview pilot survey, with the purpose of testing the acceptability of the research topics and questions by the interviewees from various strata in urban China. The interviews were conducted solely in three cities, Jinhua and Hangzhou of Zhejiang province, and Beijing, and 13 complete were collected with audio data and transcripts.

A second round of interviews were conducted in November and December 2012 in five provinces of China, namely Beijing, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong. The team succeeded in collecting more than 50 interviews mainly from three strata in China including the government officials, the firm owners or managers, and the lower classes, and five provinces through two rounds of in-depth interviews. The interview data we obtained served as the first hand data for the qualitative analysis on the one hand, and the important clues for questionnaire design on the other.

In 2013, between March and September, a questionnaire survey was administered to a sample of private entrepreneurs. This was done with the support of the Researcher’s home institution in China, the Centre for Private Economic Studies (CPES) in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). A total of 300 private entrepreneurs provided responses to the survey, resulting in a good dataset regarding the view of democracy and politics by this special social stratum in China.

Analysis and Outputs
The analysis of the project so far focuses on two bodies of data generated from the fieldwork. First, regarding the 62 in-depths interviews, we are examining the views of democracy of Chinese citizens in various social groups. Second, regarding the 300 questionnaire survey of private entrepreneurs, we are using quantitative methods to identify factors that contribute to private entrepreneurs’ support for the state and support for political liberalization.

Two research papers have been under preparation when the research entered into the second stage, with the empirical one accepted for the 6th International Forum for Contemporary Chinese Studies on 5-7 September 2013. The conference presentation was regretfully canceled due to the late completion of the questionnaire survey and therefore the missing of key data for the paper. As explained, the delay was mainly caused by the difficulty of data collection due to the politically sensitiveness of the topic and change of ideological environment of the research country. It is planned that the empirical paper as soon as completed will submit to the working paper series of the SCCS and a shortened version of the paper that contain policy recommendations will be submitted to the central government of China and various government-sponsored think tanks, as well published in policy-focused journals, magazines, and newspapers. The researching findings will also be disseminated towards wider policy, academic and business circles in China on other occasions during the integration stage such as the forums held by the Centre for Private Economic Studies of CASS, which the researcher has been affiliated with.

It is expected that the academic output from the project will help to enhance the research capacity of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies of Nottingham University and support its further development into a world-leading centre for teaching and research on contemporary China. These research output also provide EU and European countries comprehensive and informative knowledge on the most recent development of China’s state-society relationship, private business’ relation with the government, and public perception of the China’s political system, hence, will be helpful for governments, international organizations and NGOs including EU, UN, and UK governments to make relevant policies on China.