Skeptical Chinese losing trust among themselves, on govt
Would you trust a stranger? If a stranger on the street asked for your cell phone to make an urgent call, will you feel awkward, mumble a sorry request and walk away? Or would you hand over the phone? Would you leave your child with a neighbor?
The probable answers if you are in China are: no, yes, no and no.
(Do you think the answers would be the same in most cities and towns in India?)
The probable China answers are not the figment of my hostile Indian imagination; they are indicated in a new survey just released by a government-run institute.
Part of a somewhat ironically titled, the Blue Book of Social Mentality, the survey sighed that trust between people in China was falling; it touched a record low in 2011, getting only 59.7 points out of a total of 100 points for, I guess, total, blinded trust.
To me, getting 60 out of 100 – dictated by traumatic exam mark-sheets in school, college and at my Mandarin class — has always been a good effort. Of course, I’m certain that more trust in strangers, institutions and commercial organisations is a good thing; like 75 out of 100 is always better than 74.
(In fact, a score of 60 on trust levels is thought by experts to be good.)
But according to the survey some 1900 Chinese shook their heads when asked about their trust levels. The results left the government glum, probably denting the ruling Party’s faith on itself.
Only 30% of the polled people trusted strangers on the street. Overall trust levels fell from the high of 62.9 points in 2010 to 59.7 points in the latest survey.
Not only within people, citizens are becoming skeptical about the government.
“People have low trust in government, law enforcement, and judicial agencies at grass-roots level, and much lower trust in the advertising, housing, food, pharmaceutical, tourism, and catering industries largely because of certain government officials’ breaches of duties and corruption,” Communist Party of China (CPC) mouthpiece People’s Daily said in a surly opinion piece.
Wang Junxiu, lead author of the report told People’s Daily that due to social transformation, people have moved away from the society of acquaintances, leading to a new pattern of social trust.
“Wang believes that Chinese society has increasingly diverse social values amid transformation, but faces a serious problem, namely lack of shared social values.”
“Without shared social values or core values that every social member observes, a society’s moral system would collapse, and mutual trust and social progress could hardly be achieved. ”
But not everyone believes the lack of trust is only because of rapid and massive social transformation. Many Chinese netizens who commented on the survey – as translated by website Tea Leaf Nationa said the mistrust begins with the government.
According to the website, while users of microblogging platform Sina Weibo affirmed the massive social changes the article describes, by and large they appear not to believe that the lack of trust begins with the nation’s citizens. “Instead, they have pointed their collective finger at China’s ruling government. One user wrote that if changes need to occur to combat a lack of trust in Chinese society, then “the ruling party and its mouthpiece should do the first self-criticism.” Another summed up the general consensus among commenters: `The government is everyone’s familiar stranger’.”
Corruption at high government places has also possibly played a part in citizens’ mistrust of the government. Last year, several officials were, in fact, exposed by netizens themselves.
“A lack of trust between netizens and government officials has grown deep in recent years, amidst high-profile local-level corruption cases, many of which have been brought to the government’s attention by Web users,” the website said.