Authoritarian Responsiveness and Political Attitudes during COVID-19: Evidence from Weibo and a Survey Experiment

Abstract: How do citizens react to authoritarian responsiveness? To investigate this question, we study how Chinese citizens reacted to a novel government initiative which enabled social media users to publicly post requests for COVID-related medical assistance. To understand the effect of this initiative on public perceptions of government effectiveness, we employ a two-part empirical strategy. First, we conduct a survey experiment in which we directly expose subjects to real help-seeking posts, in which we find that viewing posts did not improve subjects’ ratings of government effectiveness, and in some cases worsened them.