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Building Trust in Government

Innovations in Governance Reform in Asia

image of Building Trust in Government
The ability of governments and the global community to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, ensure security, and promote adherence to basic standards of human rights depends on people's trust in their government. This book seeks to answer many of the questions raised in reference to means of strengthening trust in government within the Asia Pacific region. Through analyses of trends within North-East Asia, South-East Asia, South Asia and the Pacific Islands and specific innovations and reforms at the country level, it provides various perspectives on the causes of the decline in trust, countries and institutions that have managed to maintain higher degrees of confidence, and governance innovations and practices that have played an important role in strengthening trust once it has faltered.

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Trust in government: Evidence from China

The high level of government trust shown by citizens of still-authoritarian China is one of the most perplexing political phenomena of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Contrary to predictions that the violent crackdown by the Communist Party of China (CPC) on the protests in the spring of 1989 would de-legitimize the government to such an extent that democratic revolution would be imminent, since the early 1990s the Chinese citizenry has displayed remarkably strong confidence in the central government. Even more surprisingly, popular trust in national political leaders and institutions has been apparent even among the hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens who have participated in tens of thousands of yearly protests since the early 1990s. To be sure, these widespread “mass disturbances” indicate some degree of unhappiness with the political system. Yet almost none of the protestors have challenged CPC rule. Instead, demonstrators typically have directed their anger at local employers and/or officials, and expressed support for central authorities. Simultaneously, they generally have not criticized the political system from a Western, liberal perspective. Rather, most have voiced their criticisms from the left, calling on ruling elites to live up to their socialist claims to legitimacy. Thus, even China’s most aggrieved citizens have displayed little desire to end CPC rule. Simultaneously, many citizens – especially those who have prospered in recent years – have shown strong interest in joining the CPC and working with, rather than against, the existing political establishment. Through an analysis of public opinion polls, interviews, and data on the political behavior of China’s major socioeconomic sectors, this chapter provides evidence of these political attitudes within the Chinese citizenry.

English

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