Yiqing Xu, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Stanford University
Understanding the nature of societal preferences has important implications for the emergence of party systems, the dynamics of political conflict, and the direction of political development. However, policy preferences of the Chinese public have received relatively little scholarly attention. Using a series of surveys and experiments administrated online, we study the configuration, stability, and intensity of policy preferences in China. We find that, first, policy preferences of the Chinese public are highly multi-dimensional. For example, preferences for dovish foreign policy, for policies that ensure more political freedom, and for market-oriented reforms are correlated, but the levels of correlations are low. Second, using longitudinal surveys, we find that a large proportion of the Chinese respondents hold relatively stable policy preferences in most issue domains, which makes measuring policy preferences a meaningful endeavor. Third, using a conjoint design with an embedded experiment, we show that respondents exhibit different levels of preference intensity over different issue domains; moreover, respondents on average are willing to trade preferred policies for tighter institutional constraints on government officials.