41% of Chinese trust fewer than 3 people, survey says
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41% of Chinese trust fewer than 3 people, survey says

A survey of Chinese people’s attitudes towards trust paints a picture of a country increasingly suspicious of its neighbors, coworkers, and even family members.

The survey, conducted jointly by Tsinghua University and the Communist Party’s Xiaokang magazine, surveyed attitudes towards trust among 1017 respondents across China.

Just over 41 percent of those surveyed said that they could trust 1 to 3 people,  37 percent said they could trust 4 to 6, while 21 percent could trust more than 6.

These results show a measurable decline in respondents’ confidence in their fellow Chinese.

Last year, 38 percent said they trusted 1 to 3 people, while 31 percent trusted more than 6.  In 2010, a majority said they trusted 4 to 6 people.

The Tsinghua-Xiaokang survey also painted a bleak picture of trust within the family.

Although 90 percent of respondents said that they felt they could trust their parents, a much lower 56 percent said they could trust their spouse.

Only 39 percent said they trusted their siblings.

This year is the first time in the seven-year history of the annual survey that spouses have overtaken siblings as more trustworthy, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Parents have consistently ranked highest among family members for trustworthiness.

The discouraging statistics come after a year filled with major news stories that have highlighted a disturbing lack of public trust in China.

Last summer’s Guo Meimei scandal turned suspicion on the Red Cross and other charities, which many now suspect of siphoning off donations to pay for lavish banquets and personal shopping sprees.

In the fall of 2011, a wave of national soul-searching was prompted after a series of accident victims – ranging from elderly retirees to a 2 year-old girl – were left unaided by passersby.  Many observers sympathized with the bystanders, expressing fears of being falsely accused of causing the accident and forced to pay compensation.

The Tsinghua-Xiaokang survey also ranked occupations based on their trustworthiness, with peasants topping the list as the most trusted, and lawyers and athletes tying for tenth place.

In addition, the survey examined trust in the government, with 68 percent of respondents saying that they believed the country’s government to be trustworthy.  Trust in the government has risen steadily every year since the survey was first conducted in 2006, Xinhua reported.

However, many respondents also complained that government actions were “not transparent,” and cited issues such as corruption and official negligence as having a negative influence on government trustworthiness.