Pew has a new survey out, asking Chinese about a whole lot of things. The results confirm what a lot of us have sensed about China:
A slowdown is particularly troubling for Xi because, as China prepares for its once-in-a-decade leadership transition, a Pew Global Attitudes survey conducted there this year finds that its citizens are also increasingly worried about a variety of other domestic issues, especially corruption, inequality and consumer protection.
In the economic realm, while standards of living have improved for the vast majority of Chinese, and the country’s middle class has expanded tremendously, there is nonetheless a widespread belief that not everyone is enjoying their fair share. And as consumers, many Chinese feel at the mercy of a system that cannot guarantee the safety of life’s basic necessities.
Half say corrupt officials are a very serious problem in China, up from 39% in 2008.
Second, there is a consensus that some people are being left behind by China’s rapid growth – 81% of those polled agree that today the “rich just get richer while the poor get poorer”. Nearly half (48%) describe the gap between rich and poor as a very big problem, up from 41% four years ago.
And in another sign that many do not see a level economic playing field, less than half (45%) agree with the statement “most people can succeed if they are willing to work hard”.
Roughly four-in-ten (41%) now consider food safety a very big problem, up from just 12% in 2008.
During that same time period, concerns about the safety of medicine have more than tripled, from 9% to 28%. Similarly, the percentage saying they are very worried about the quality of manufactured goods has jumped from 13% to 33%.
These are important points, and I think they’re very telling for the crisis of confidence the Party is facing. Xi needs to seriously change course if he wants these numbers to stop climbing.