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Sources of Regime Legitimacy and the Debate over the Chinese Model


This article reexamines the ongoing debate over the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party regime through a rigorous analysis of a recent Asian Barometer Survey data from mainland China. It evaluates the empirical evidences related to three key issues—to what extent the CCP regime is facing a legitimacy crisis, what factors help sustain the regime’s political support, and whether the regime can defy the gravitation toward liberal democracy in the process of rapid socioeconomic modernization. There is no strong evidence suggesting that the regime’s popular foundation is highly or exclusively dependent on its superior economic performance or its manipulation of nationalist zeal. Our analysis lends its support to the culturalist argument about the prevailing influence of the traditional concepts of political legitimacy as well as the institutionalist argument about the importance of perceived characteristics of the political system.

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