Decoding political trust in China : a machine learning analysis

Lianjiang LI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

Abstract

Survey results inflate political trust in China if the observed trust in the central government is mistaken for the latent trust in the Centre. The target of trust in the country is the Centre, which is ultimately the top leader. The critical issue domain for assessing the Centre's trustworthiness is policy implementation rather than policymaking. The Centre's trustworthiness has two dimensions: commitment to good governance and the capacity to discipline local officials. Observed trust in the central government indicates trust in the Centre's commitment, while observed trust in the local government reflects confidence in the Centre's capacity. A machine learning analysis of a national survey reveals how much conventional reading overestimates political trust. At first glance, 85 per cent of the respondents trust the central government. Upon further inspection, 18 per cent have total trust in the Centre, 34 per cent have partial trust and 33 per cent are sceptical.

如果把对中央政府的信任等同于对中央的信任,问卷调查结果会夸大中国的政治信任。在中国,政治信任的对象是中央,中央归根结底是最高领袖。评价中央可信度的关键事域是政策执行,而非政策制定。中央的可信度有两个向度,一是执政动机,二是治吏能力。对中央政府的信任标示对中央执政动机的信心,对地方政府的信任折射对中央治吏能力的信心。对一个全国调查数据的机器学习分析显示,常规解读大幅度高估政治信任。乍看起来,在3,473名受访人中,百分之85信任中央政府。深入分析发现,百分之18的受访人全面信任中央,百分之34片面信任中央,百分之33持怀疑态度。

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalChina Quarterly
Volume249
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of SOAS University of London.

Keywords

  • China
  • machine learning
  • political trust
  • trust in the central government
  • trust in the Centre
  • trust in the local government
  • 政治信任
  • 对中央的信任
  • 对中央政府的信任
  • 对地方政府的信任
  • 机器学习
  • 中国

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