• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 12:48pm

Chinese increasingly worry about graft and inequality, survey says

A growing number of mainland Chinese worry about corruption, inequality and food safety, a survey said, weeks before China unveils its next generation of leaders.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 11:50am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2012, 2:24pm

A growing number of mainland Chinese worry about corruption, inequality and food safety, a survey said, weeks before China unveils its next generation of leaders.

The latest Pew Global Attitudes China Project, which polled more than 3,000 people earlier this year, shines a rare light on public opinion in a country where the government attempts to control information and limit discussion of contentious issues.

The survey, released on Tuesday, comes ahead of a Communist Party congress starting on November 8, where those who will hold power for the next decade will be announced.

“As China prepares for its once-in-a-decade change of leadership, the Chinese people believe their country faces serious and growing challenges,” the authors of the survey wrote.

“In particular, the side effects of rapid economic growth, including the gap between rich and poor, rising prices and pollution are major concerns, and there are also increasing worries about political corruption.”

Graft is a particular sore point for leaders of the world’s second-largest economy. The Communist Party has repeatedly warned that anger over corruption could threaten its survival, or at least destabilise its tight hold on power.

Half the respondents said they thought corrupt officials were a very big problem, up 11 percentage points from four years ago, while one-third thought corrupt business people were a major concern, up from around one-fifth in 2008.

Many Chinese have been enraged this year by a string of incidents of corruption and misuse of power, including a high-speed Ferrari crash reportedly involving the son of a senior official and a local official photographed flaunting luxury watches beyond the reach of his salary.

More sensationally, Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party chief of the city of Chongqing and a one-time high-flyer, was sacked this year on charges of graft and bending the law to hush up the murder of a British businessman by his wife.

One of the most dramatic shifts in public opinion was over food safety. Respondents rating it a very big problem jumped almost 30 percentage points from 2008 figures, underscoring the impact of repeated food scandals on public confidence.

Chinese media report on food adulteration cases almost every day, including the scourge of old cooking oil dredged from gutters to be re-packaged and re-sold, and the regular tainting of dairy products with poisonous substances.

The findings are part of an ongoing research in China that has gone on for years, said Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project.

Inflation remained the biggest worry in the survey although fewer Chinese now view prices as a very big problem compared with four years ago. But a still significant six-in-10 rated it a top worry, down from more than seven-in-10 four years ago.



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

The Los Angeles Times today also had a report from the same Pew poll. The article started with "Are you better off than you were five years ago?
In China, most people say yes. Seventy percent of Chinese people said their finances are better than they were, according to a poll from the Pew Research Center. The vast majority of Chinese people also say they are living better than their parents did at their age."
Why isn't this in the SCMP report? By the way, all the observations in the SCMP article are in the LA Times report.
Anger but maintaining silence rather than "worry" as "daring anger but not speaking out" is the
norm among the majority who are not direct or indirect beneficiaries of corruption and collusion.
Better transparency and higher pay will alleviate the graft problem. An official like Bo Xilai should receive $100,000 per month, not $20,000-30,000.
Bo Xilai's family is said to have amassed ~ 700 million USD over the years. Do you really think he would care whether is salary is $30,000 or $100,000. It wouldn't make any difference as to corruption.


SCMP.com Account