Harvard University published the results of a survey showing the widespread support of the Chinese people for the Communist Party’s handling of the CCP Virus, but serious doubts are raised about its reliability given some hidden aspects in the collection of the data.
The survey was conducted in China by the Horizon Research Advisory Group, founded and chaired by Yuan Yue, a former official of the CCP Ministry of Justice. Harvard refused to identify the company that conducted the survey and it had supported, according to The Washington Free Beacon of July 31.
Foreign policy experts are suspicious of the reliability of surveys conducted by Chinese companies in China, since those living under authoritarian regimes, such as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), are less likely to give frank opinions.
This assumption is supported by Zack Cooper, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare.
“I think it’s impossible to get reliable data, because people in China are necessarily going to be concerned that their responses are going to have broader implications,” Cooper observed. He added, “One possibility is that people are going to feel much more watched now—they’re responding less honestly to surveys.”
Harvard, which has received about $76 million from Chinese entities since 2014, downplayed the relationship, although it acknowledged the adverse effect on surveys of those living under authoritarian regimes.
He said that the researchers “adhered to the highest academic standards,” without considering the high risk that the data had been skewed.
Harvard’s record of work for the CCP is long. Between 2003 and 2016 it followed up on public approval of the CCP, claiming that approval for all levels of the system has increased over those 13 years.
Also, professor Anthony Saich, one of the researchers involved in the studies, confirmed in 2015 that he worked with Horizon Research on the surveys.
Horizon Research, under the name of Dataway, works with more than 20 state administrations of the CCP, according to a case study of the company in 2019.
In addition, it organizes workshops for party officials and collaborates with an agency of the State Council, the main administrative body of the Chinese state.
Dean Cheng, senior researcher at the Heritage Foundation, explained that the CCP oversees all companies in the country, making none independent.
Cooper, the IEA scholar, believes that the survey results published by Harvard should mention the possible impact of political pressure on respondents.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to conduct surveys in China as long as it explains very clearly who was surveyed and under what circumstances and takes into account the fact that they may not have felt free to respond accurately,” he said. “But if they didn’t submit those data, I think that’s problematic,” he added.
The CCP has invested millions of dollars in U.S. universities and academic centers, seeking to benefit its Party, and is therefore seen as a major threat to America.
The FBI conducts more than 2,000 investigations against individuals or entities in the service of the CCP, primarily engaged in intellectual property theft, which it accesses using a variety of resources.
It uses “a wide range of actors—including not only Chinese intelligence services, but also state-owned companies, seemingly private companies, certain types of graduate students and investigators, and a variety of other actors working on its behalf,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said, according to Fox News.