Notes de l'Ifri Asie Visions

China’s Emerging Middle Class: What Political Impact? Asie.Visions, No. 76, June 2015

This research paper argues that, contrary to what is often believed, most of the Chinese middle class appears to be politically conservative, and may not challenge the current political order as much as is expected, for several reasons; first of all, because of its strong connection to the Communist Party of China and the civil service in broader terms. Nonetheless, Chinese middle households are increasingly voicing their concern about a set of issues directly affecting them, such as pollution, either in the street or online.


They also appear to be reluctant to accept some aspects of the ongoing socioeconomic reform under the Xi Jinping leadership, such as the flexibilization of the hukou system, or may feel unfairly targeted under the anti-corruption campaign (see part III). In conclusion, this research paper provides an overall assessment of the political impact of the emergence of China’s middle class, by taking into account the evolution of the profiles and expectations of this population group, as well as the new media landscape and the latest decisions and reactions in the early Xi era. It aims not only at understanding if China’s middle class is hoping (or not) to change the current political system, but also if it would be able to do so in the present context.

This study follows a first research paper on the Chinese middle class, titled “The Distinctive Features of China’s Middle Classes” (see below) which identified, beyond income classification, major specificities of this population group in China.


China’s Emerging Middle Class: What Political Impact?
Chinese society domestic policy Asia China