A strong majority of people in China and the US seem to distrust each other, but few among the public or elite actually see the other power as an enemy, according to a survey led by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The study is considered to be one of the most comprehensive looks at the views of influential Chinese, and resulted in many of the country’s elite describing their opinions towards the US as “mild”, despite constant disagreements between the power economies, according to the Associated Press.
The survey in China included 2,597 members of the public and 358 elites, and the US survey included 1,004 members of the public and 305 elites.
“The elite and public findings really don’t confirm the perceptions in many quarters about what Chinese popular opinion is towards the United States,” lead author Michael Swaine of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was quoted as saying.
“It doesn’t confirm the views of netizens in China that are generally very hawkish and rather, at times, bombastic about what China should do vis-a-vis the US,” he added.
The survey showed that majorities in both countries doubted that the other power could be highly trusted. This sense of distrust was seen especially among people in China towards the US.
Twenty-seven percent of Chinese government elites considered the US as an enemy, according to the survey results, while only 2 percent of US government elites said likewise about China. In contrast, a mere 15 percent of the US public and 12 percent of the Chinese public considered the other nation as an enemy.
“There is a high level of distrust among the elites and the publics of both countries towards the other. However, on the other hand, there is a strong recognition of the need for the two countries to improve their relationship and to cooperate more deeply,” Swaine said.
Some of the most recent topics of disagreement between the two powers have revolved around China’s recently established Air Defense Identification Zone as well as the country’s current crackdown on foreign press.
Earlier this month during his visit to China, US Vice President Joe Biden attended several meetings with Xi Jinping wherein he “expressed concern” over the country’s new ID zone and complained “forcefully” about recent threats to expel US journalists from China. On that note, Joe Biden is really starting to take on the role as the United States’ nagging mother.