WASHINGTON – The Chinese are too optimistic in their opinion of how the world sees them,according to a new opinion poll revealed Tuesday.
According to the survey results,77 percent of Chinese believe the world views China favorably. The data indicated,however,that approval ratings for China among other countries were low. Japan's rating of China was the lowest at 14 percent.
The survey,conducted between March and April by the Pew Global Attitudes Project,a series of worldwide public opinion surveys,was done in 24 countries. It included 3,212 Chinese adults interviewed face to face,with margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. The results were discussed at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Bruce Stokes,the international economics columnist for the National Journal,said the Chinese are experiencing the same misconceptions about their global image that Americans experienced in the past,though U.S. views have changed since 9/11.
While 55 percent of Chinese see the impact of their economy as positive,only 20 percent of Americans are positive about the U.S. economy.
“Chinese favorability is slipping,according to our polls,especially in Europe,” Stokes said,where 26 percent of Germans viewed China favorably.
The survey showed that,while 83 percent of Chinese think their country considers other nations' interests when making policy decisions,only 30 percent of people outside China agree.
“They're beginning to,it seems to me,suffer from the same superpower syndrome as we are,” Stokes said.
As China grows,so does global concern about the country. Richard Wike,associate director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project,said attitudes about China reflect,in many ways,attitudes about the U.S.
“There may be some lessons we can learn from research into how the world feels about the United States,” Wike said.
Douglas Paal,the Carnegie Endowment vice president for studies,said growing concern around the world regarding the safety of Chinese products could be a factor in the survey results,especially for Japan,where a recent food poisoning scare led to the recall of Chinese-produced dumplings.
Paal said China is making similar mistakes to those the U.S. has made in its heavy-handedness in pursuing African resources,for example,and bringing Chinese citizens to work in African-based businesses instead of employing locals.
“There's a real sense among African citizens that China's playing an increasing role in the affairs of their countries,” Wike said.
The world is also worried about China's impact on the environment. Despite government efforts to decrease pollution,recent images of Beijing show no sign of improvement. The Chinese are also concerned.
Wike said 80 percent of Chinese people think the environment should be a priority,”even if this means potential job losses.”
Notwithstanding their enthusiasm about the direction their country is moving,the Chinese have major concerns.
“Economic issues still top our list of national concerns,” Wike said,citing inflation,rising prices and disparities between rich and poor as some of the things the Chinese are worried about.
The survey also showed that they were less satisfied with their personal lives than with the country in general. The country is struggling with the consequences of economic growth,Wike said.
Stokes said that in earlier surveys people from around the world said they would welcome another superpower to counterbalance the U.S. “OK,we're emerging as the new superpower,and now you don't like us,” he said of the world's attitudes toward China.
The Chinese don't view other countries positively,either. Just over a third of Chinese view the U.S. as an enemy,and even more view Japan as an enemy.
The survey also revealed that the Chinese have very high hopes for the 2008 Olympics,which start Aug. 8,with most believing China will win the most medals and 93 percent expecting the games to have a positive impact on China's international image.
According to the survey,both Europeans and Chinese think China will,at some point,replace the U.S. as the world's superpower.
The experts are not so sure. China's economy has slowed by almost 2 percent since last year,Stokes said,and the Chinese may be setting themselves up for disappointment after the Olympics. There is also the issue of rising inflation.
“If I were the Beijing leadership,that's what I would be worried about,” Stokes said.