A survey released in early 2013 showed that trust in China had fallen to an all-time low. More than two-thirds of Chinese respondents said they felt they couldn’t trust strangers. Many incidents with bystanders unwilling to help injured people on the street and a general feeling that anyone could be a pianzi (scammer) seem to underscore the results.
Meanwhile, over the past few years China has experienced an outbreak of random public attacks on innocent bystanders. There was the Xiamen bus arsonist that killed 47, the man who set off three bombs around Fuzhou, and, most recently, the wheelchair-bound bomber at the Beijing Airport… just to name a few. But as barbaric as these acts seem, the attackers have actually received a fair amount of public sympathy.
While the phenomena of low trust and random attacks may seem unrelated, they likely share common roots. In today’s podcast, George Ding, a Beijing-based writer who’s covered both these issues, helps us unearth what’s causing them and what it means for China’s development.
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George Ding (Vice) – Sympathy For the Beijing Airport Bomber
George Ding (The Beijinger) – Peking Man: Confidence Woman
Angus Walker (ITV News) – A Glimpse at China’s ‘Black Jails’
Göteborg University and McGill University – How Political Institutions Create and Destroy Social Capital: An Institutional Theory of Generalized Trust