China-US relations have been a bit confusing of late, which helps to explain why Chinese people’s attitudes towards the United States are improving, even as they mark it as the greatest threat to China.
This information comes from a global survey that was released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based nonprofit that performs polls around the world, which surveyed 3,154 Chinese citizens this spring, and came back with some interesting results about how Chinese people view their own country and its place in the world. Let’s take a look.
Three-fourths believed that China was playing a greater role on the global stage than a decade ago. Those people are absolutely correct. Easy warm-up question. While most saw this as a good thing, they were still wary of that dreaded “foreign influence.”
“Foreign influence” might just be code for the United States at this point. Around half of those surveyed believed that the US was working to hold China back. At the same time, half also held favorable views of the United States.
In fact, compared with last year, attitudes towards the US are improving in China (though what in the world happened in 2010?).
And yet, more people believed that the top threat to China was not ISIS, global climate change or Russia, but the United States of America.
Of course, there are threats to worry about inside the country as well. Concerns continue to rise about the safety of domestic food and medicine. It’s important to note that this survey was likely administered when China’s biggest vaccine scandal ever was still fresh in the minds of many.
Meanwhile, more and more people are worried about the threat that China’s smog poses to their own lifespan, saying that they’d be happy to trade some economic growth for a bit of fresh air.
Still even with dirty air, spoiled vaccines and a slew of other worthy candidates, most people believe that China’s biggest problem is with corruption.
But hey, it’s gonna get better, right? Upon entering office in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a massive austerity campaign directed at catching both the “tigers and flies.” Four years later, China’s corruption record is only getting worse. Still, many hold out hope.
But they are even more confident that their kids will be even better off financially than they are today, even as China’s economic growth rate continues to slow.
And yet even as China’s economic and diplomatic power continues to grow, many would prefer that China stay focused on its own domestic affairs.
Though at the same time, they would be fine with doing more to help developing countries out.
And suddenly they like the United Nations again, though this survey was administered before the South China Sea ruling in July. It will be interesting to see where that percentage falls next year.
The Pew survey was conducted via face-to-face interviews with people 18 or older, living in cities and counties across mainland China. To administer the annual survey, Pew contracts a local research firm, which means that certain questions are off the table.
“You can’t ask about the government directly,” one of the report’s authors told the Los Angeles Times. “You can ask them about Obama, but you can’t ask about Xi. And you don’t ask about the Communist Party.”