China’s leaders are less popular than they might think

A clever new poll unearths more discontent with Xi Jinping than had been assumed

CHINA’S LEADERS have no qualms about using intimidation and force  to stay in power.But the Communist Party also claims that it deserves to rule because it governs well and has the support of the public. Officials point to decades of impressive economic growth—and to opinion surveys that researchers at Harvard University conducted between 2003 and 2016. In the last such survey, over 90% of Chinese people expressed satisfaction with the party. “Such high approval ratings are beyond the wildest dreams of American politicians,” boasted Hua Chunying, a foreign-ministry spokeswoman, in 2020.

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