France plunges in popularity ranking: Poll

By Raymond Zhou and Chen Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-24 06:18

France used to rank only next to their motherland as the most beloved country for the Chinese, but that has changed dramatically, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The poll by Horizon Research Consultancy Group, an independent survey company, shows that as many as 60 percent of respondents "registered a growing dislike for France".

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Horizon's telephone poll between April 18 and 20 covered 905 residents, aged 16-65, in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The respondents said the French attitude toward the Beijing Olympics had severely dented their impression of the country.

The survey also suggested that Canada, Britain and Germany also dropped in the rating, with 64.8 percent, 57.2 percent and 58.1 percent saying they had more negative feelings now.

The survey contrasted sharply with Horizon's annual study called "The World in Chinese Eyes" in 2003, when France was the second most liked country. The next year it was fourth in the ranking.

The poll results clearly reveal simmering resentment among the Chinese toward France following a series of hostile gestures, including disruptions to the Olympic torch relay in Paris on April 7.

"I'm upset at the French bias on China's human rights issues," said Duan Chen, a 25-year-old who works for a law firm. "It is guilty without charge!

"I used to buy French products which epitomize style and grace, but their hypocritical words against China weigh heavily on my mind now," Duan said.

But Yang Chenjiu, an IT engineer whose girlfriend is studying in Paris, called for a calm and rational way to deal with France while expressing concerns about a setback to the Sino-French relationship.

"I encourage my girlfriend to tell her French classmates about the real China," Yang said. "How can you expect French people to have an objective attitude toward China when most of them rarely have a chance to hear China's voice?"

The survey rejected Western claims that the Chinese had only a single source of news. When it comes to the Olympic torch relay and the Tibet issue, 76.9 percent of the respondents said they noted different voices from Western and domestic media.

About 86 percent said they tended to believe in the reports of domestic media while those who were inclined to believe the Western media accounted for only 2 percent.

A big majority of respondents, or 82.5 percent, opposed linking the Olympics with Tibet or human rights.

About 75 percent are aware of the call for boycotts and protests held overseas, and of these, 90 percent "oppose" and 77 percent "strongly oppose" these activities.

Half the respondents said what the Dalai Lama said and did recently deepened their repugnance toward him.

In terms of responses to the disruptions of the torch relay, 60 percent chose "gathering online votes and signatures in support of the Olympics"; 51 percent "mobilizing others to participate in Olympics-related activities"; 39 percent "boycotting foreign merchandise such as those made in France"; 34 percent "voicing opinions in blogs and BBSs"; 21 percent "taking part in spontaneous protests in public places"; 10 percent "taking other measures"; 12 percent "not taking any concrete action"; and 5 percent "refusing to answer or not sure".

Respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer for all questions.

According to the survey, Chinese people's enthusiasm for the Olympics has not been dampened by the recent turn of events.

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