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Although there is a consensus that mass media play an important role in the rise and fall of political trust in Western democracies, existing research on media use and political trust in China achieved relatively inconclusive findings. By using two surveys conducted in China in 2013 and 2018, we examine the effects of media use, including traditional media, social media, and foreign media, on Chinese citizens’ trust in their central and local governments. Our research shows that traditional media usage such as watching TV and reading newspapers is positively associated with citizens’ trust in the central government but is not related to their trust in local governments. Social media usage is negatively associated with trust in local governments but not with trust in the central government. Using VPNs to access foreign media is negatively associated with Chinese citizens’ trust in the central government but does not affect their trust in local governments. We explain why different types of media have such contrasting effects on political trust in central versus local Chinese governments and discuss the theoretical and empirical implications of these findings.

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Global Media and China





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