Authoritarian responsiveness: Online consultation with “issue publics” in China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, public consultation has become a standard feature of policymaking in authoritarian regimes. While previous studies found evidence of government responsiveness to citizens' demands, they did not measure responsiveness in terms of real policy change. This article presents the first systematic analysis of Chinese central government policy responsiveness to consultative input. In 2008, the Chinese government unveiled a blueprint for health-care reform, inviting the public to post their opinions online. Having collected 27,899 online comments, the government subsequently published a revised draft. This article analyzes a random sample of 2% of this corpus of comments, assessing the effect of comments on revisions while controlling for both media content and bureaucratic preferences. The findings demonstrate that public comments have an impact upon policy revisions and suggest that the Chinese government is more responsive to street-level implementers than to other social groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-564
Number of pages18
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Marketing
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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