Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Sociology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Pidi Zhang


This paper explores the contrast of China’s spectacular economic development and the low scores of trust for the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) legitimacy among the Chinese people. The sharp contrast may reflect flaws in the shaping of de facto authority of the Chinese government. The de facto authority is examined in connection to the notion of the Mandate of Heaven from the Confucian tradition. The severe imbalance of economic growth and lack of political reform is discussed against the backgrounds of the domestic and international political circumstances. This paper argues that, in spite of the phenomenal economic development of the past three decades, the Chinese people’s mixed feelings about the legitimacy of the Chinese authorities may be rooted in the combination of the rescued Mandate of Heaven through economic growth and the CCP’s flawed legitimacy based on de facto authority.