The Rally Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the White Paper Movement in China

Yue GUAN, Lei GUANG, Lianjiang LI*, Yanchuan LIU

*Corresponding author for this work

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


The COVID-19 pandemic had an exceptionally long and consequential rally effect in China. Drawing on an eight-wave nationwide survey, this article shows that the Wuhan lockdown boosted public confidence in the central government. The persistence of the pandemic and the initial success of the zero-COVID policy sustained the enhanced trust in the central government for over two years. However, the rally effect did not dissipate as quietly as usual. As trust in the central government returned to the pre-pandemic level following the Shanghai lockdown, defiant protests collectively known as the White Paper Movement broke out. Angry protesters demanded the termination of the zero-COVID policy and called for accountability from the ruling party and its top leader. This article argues that while the rally effect lasted exceptionally long in the authoritarian country, it could not be prolonged indefinitely. Ultimately, the dissonance between the declining trust in the central government and the persisting restrictive measures provoked the protests.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Contemporary China
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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