Nationalistic optimism hits its worldwide high in China, a new survey by PEW Global Attitudes Project has found. Eighty-six percent reported being happy with their county’s direction, with 82 percent positive about the national economy. These numbers have risen startlingly in the past six years, growing 38 and 30 percentage points respectively during an era when many nations, including the United States, have seen severe declines.
Chinese national pride may be up, but personal satisfaction isn’t especially high. In areas such as income, family life and career, attitudes square with how China’s per capita income ranks it in the global hierarchy (modestly), and have not improved much over past years. Concerns over rising prices, the rich-poor gap, corruption and pollution are the issues most commonly sighted as putting a damper on all that China spirit, with at least three-quarters of those surveyed listing them as major problems. We can’t say we’re too surprised at this individual discontentment… remember those stats about how infrequently the Chinese actually achieve orgasm?
Unsurprising for those who live here, China’s optimism peaks when it comes to a certain special event — the Olympics. Well over 90 percent say the Games will be successful and improve the nation’s image, with almost 80 percent reporting that the event is important to them personally, a sentiment explained by the Chinese themselves in this video. The survey was conducted before pollution, algae and locusts threatened Olympic success, but the optimism expressed is still interesting considering the interviews, which were disproportionately conducted in urban areas, took place just a few weeks after the March 10 Tibet riots.
While it remains to be seen whether the high hopes held for the August games will pan out in China’s favor, one strain of positive thinking can already be discredited — the Chinese beliefs about how they are viewed abroad. Almost 80 percent think that the nation is seen favorably by foreigners when, as we reported last month, opinions of the PRC are rapidly falling in a majority of countries, with only seven of the 23 nations PEW surveyed viewing China positively.
Statistics from PEW Global Attitudes Project