Wu.china.summary - University of Delaware

Bonnie Wu Studies Perceptions of Police in China
Reflections from Bonnie:
The fun of research is maximized when the researcher can
examine a topic that she/he has been dreaming of doing for a
long time. Thanks to the summer research award granted by the
College of Arts and Sciences and the Center for International
Studies at the University of Delaware, I was able to travel to
China in May of 2008 to study how Chinese citizens perceive
and evaluate their police and police services. Very little is known about how Chinese view the
police in their country. However, understanding how the public conceptualizes and
evaluates the police is particularly vital as it tells us why the public respond to police in ways
they do and how the police can obtain more support and cooperation from citizens. This
information is especially important given the rising status that China has on today’s world
stage and the rapid trend of globalization that merges the West and the East in a faster pace
than ever. Thus, when the good news came in mid-March about the grant, I was quite
excited. Under the supervision of Dr. Ivan Sun, I started to prepare my trip right away,
designing the survey instrument, submitting the proposal to IRB for review, and setting up
connections in China to facilitate survey distribution. Then, in early May, I took off!
As planned, I collected survey data from college students in two universities, one in
Beijing, a large, cosmopolitan city in North China, and the other in Fuqing, a small, more
homogeneous city in Southeast China. The university in Beijing is a comprehensive,
highly-ranked institution with over 20,000 students. There, I distributed surveys through
visits to dormitory rooms, class meetings, and personal connections. The university in
Fuqing is a four-year, public university with around 6,000 students. There, I reached
potential respondents mainly through visits to classrooms and dorms. Although I could not
employ random sampling techniques, I made efforts to obtain a student sample as diverse and
representative as possible. In total, about 350 students completed the survey approximately half of whom were from Beijing and half from Fuqing. During my stay in
China, I also conducted a variety of other research-related activities, such as visiting
university and state libraries and exchanging research ideas with police and legal scholars in
Overall, my six-week trip in China was busy, fruitful and fun. Findings from this
research can definitely enrich my knowledge of the police-citizen relationship in China. It
is also fascinating to see how variations in societal contexts can alter theoretical and policy
implications in significant ways. Further, the process of this research, filled with both
pleasures and challenges, has helped me to obtain a broader picture of the research
environment, social changes, and even contemporary culture and society as a whole in China.
I learned two main things from this trip. First, interpersonal connections indeed play a
significant role in data collection process in a Chinese setting, especially in the areas of crime,
law, and criminal justice. Second, when conducting international research, following the
Western rules of research is important, but the researcher must be flexible and take the host
country’s own academic, cultural, and social customs and characteristics into consideration is
also critical.