What explains popular support for government monitoring in China?

Zheng Su, Xu Xu, Xun Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Discussions of China’s recent massive surveillance initiative often present it as evidence of a path to an Orwellian state with omnipresent fear and discontent among its citizens. However, based on a 2018 survey of a nationally representative sample, this paper finds that a large majority of Chinese citizens support various forms of state surveillance. CCTV surveillance receives the highest support (82.2%), followed by e-mail and Internet monitoring (61.1%). Even the most intrusive policy–collecting intelligence on everyone in the country–receives support from more than 53% of citizens. Further, support for surveillance is positively associated with an individual’s preference for social stability, regime satisfaction, and, to a lesser extent, trust in government. Unlike in Western societies, concerns about information exposure and terrorism do not have any significant correlations with citizens’ attitudes toward surveillance in China. These findings might help explain why the Chinese state can expand its surveillance capacity without much open resistance from the public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-392
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Information Technology and Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


  • China
  • public opinion
  • security concern
  • Surveillance
  • trust


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