The survey conducted by Harvard University contains data from eight separate waves between 2003 and 2016, and records face-to-face interview responses from more than 31,000 individuals in both urban and rural settings. As such, it represents the longest-running independent effort to track citizen approval with all four levels of the Chinese government across time (ranging from the township, to the county, to the provincial, and finally the central government).
The most striking feature of the survey's data since 2003 is the near-universal increase in Chinese citizens' average satisfaction toward all four levels of government. To gauge satisfaction, respondents were asked to evaluate government performance on a scale of 1-4: 1 indicating "very dissatisfied"; 2 "fairly dissatisfied"; 3 "fairly satisfied"; and 4 "very satisfied".
From the impact of broad national policies to the conduct of local town officials, Chinese citizens rate the government as more capable and effective than ever before. Interestingly, more marginalized groups in poorer, inland regions are actually comparatively more likely to report increases in satisfaction.
These increases in satisfaction are not just limited to overall assessments of government performance. When asked about the specific conduct and attributes of local government officials, increasing numbers of Chinese citizens view them as kind, knowledgeable, and effective.