Distrust in government and preference for regime change in China

Lianjiang LI*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

9 Citations (Scopus)


The article argues that distrust in government reflects a preference for regime change in authoritarian China. It shows that individuals who have stronger distrust in government also have a stronger preference for multiparty electoral competition which runs against the gist of one-party rule and would be a stepping stone toward representative democracy. The article suggests that the relationship between trust in government and system support in an established democracy is fundamentally different from its variant in an authoritarian state. The target of distrust shifts from an electorally accountable government to a self-appointed one, while the target of support shifts from a system that protects freedom and rights to one that restricts them. The article concludes that the buffer between distrust in government and preference for regime change is particularly thin and fragile in China, where the vices of authoritarianism are proven and the virtues of democracy look promising.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-343
Number of pages18
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number2
Early online date6 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (CUHK 450111).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • China
  • support for democracy
  • system support
  • trust in commitment
  • trust in government


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