Public approval of reforms declined last year, a national survey has revealed. The State Commission for Restructuring the Economy found public acceptance of reforms in 1997 was less favourable compared with the previous year, but did not give detailed figures. The survey, carried out between May and November, hinted that discontent had risen - apparently because of increasing unemployment and massive layoffs by state-owned enterprises. The commission interviewed 2,430 families in 53 cities and townships across the country, said a report in the pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po yesterday. About 80 per cent of those questioned said they believed China could maintain political stability. However, only 51 per cent said they had confidence in the Government's campaign against corruption. Official media have claimed the campaign enjoys widespread support from the public and warn the authorities will punish any violators, regardless of their positions. The commission said public acceptance of specific measures, such as law and order and anti-inflation, ranged from 63 per cent to 71 per cent. The survey found sentiments expressed by most people were 'calm and stable'. Hinting that there could be silent discontent among the people, the survey warned that how to deal with disadvantaged groups could be a crucial factor in maintaining social stability.