Maintaining Popular Support for the Chinese Communist Party: The Influence of Education and the State-Controlled Media

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Abstract

Literature on public opinion in China suggests that public support for the Chinese Communist party (CCP) is quite high. No matter how survey questions regarding regime support are phrased, the results are the same. The obvious question arises: how does an authoritarian regime, such as the PRC, garner the support of the vast majority of its citizens? I argue that the exposure-acceptance model best explains the high level of public support in China. This model suggests that educated citizens, who are politically aware, display high levels of political support within an authoritarian regime, but citizens at the highest levels of education are more resistant to political messages and tend to have lower levels of support. However, in a developing country such as China there are unequal educational opportunities for rural and urban citizens. This has a significant influence on how education affects regime support. Despite lower levels of support among the most educated citizens, the CCP still manages to maintain a high level of popular support through strict control over the media and education system.

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