Co-sponsored by Confucius Institute
China’s authoritarian state uses repression to deter violent medical disturbances (yinao) and to maintain social stability. Is this strategy successful? I argue that in the absence of comprehensive health reform to tackle the root causes of yinao, such as the inequality and inequity of healthcare provisions, the state repression of yinao produces unintended adverse outcomes, causing the deterioration of doctor-patient relationships. This is because state repression enhances public awareness of the violence and raises public expectations for safer and better healthcare, without addressing the fundamental causes of yinao. Using the difference-in-differences method with China Family Panel Studies data for 2014 and 2016, I empirically show that the criminalization of yinao has decreased public trust in doctors and belief in hospitals’ competence, while increasing public concerns about the healthcare system. This study fills an important gap in the literature on contentious politics and uncovers policy feedback effects in a nondemocratic setting.