In the wake of numerous high-profile corruption and pollution cases in China, concerns about the environment and social issues have been on the rise, according to a recent survey by the US-based Pew Research Center between March and April 2013.
Nearly half of all respondents list air pollution, food safety, and the gap between the rich and poor as “very big problems,” showing significant increases from 2012. More than half of respondents also described political corruption as a significant concern, an issue highlighted by this year’s trial of former Chongqing Communist Party leader Bo Xilai.
Overall, the survey illustrates the evolving set of priorities of the Chinese people. As the Chinese economy strengthens and the middle class grows, concerns about the environment and consumer safety move to the forefront, and more people become concerned that the nation’s economic growth unfairly benefits the wealthy and politically connected.
Concerns about food safety and water pollution followed headlines about thousands of rotting pigs floating down a river through the center of Shanghai, as well as stories about tainted infant formula and other products.
Chinese citizens are far more optimistic about the national economy, with 80% saying they expect the economic situation to improve over the next 12 months, but the Chinese government has been increasingly alarmed by social unrest caused by environmental issues and public health threats. This month, a slew of pollution measures were unveiled in Beijing with the hopes of curbing air pollution by 25% by 2017.
– Michael DeZubiria