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China, US people-to-people viewpoints still have long way to go

Updated: 2015-06-29 11:29
By Chen Weihua (China Daily USA)

In Washington last week, China and the United States successfully concluded their most important annual talks - the 7th China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the 6th China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange - but a Pew Research Center survey released on the opening day of the talks on June 23 suggested that the two countries have much work to do for their people to like each other's countries.

According to the survey, 49 percent of the Chinese polled saw the US unfavorably while 44 percent rated it favorably.

At the same time, 54 percent of Americans viewed China unfavorably and 38 percent rated it favorably.

Globally, 55 percent of people saw China favorably, with 34 percent seeing it unfavorably. And 69 percent rated the US favorably and 24 percent unfavorably, according to the survey.

Countries whose people have a more negative view of the US than of China include Russia, Lebanon, Turkey, Palestine Territory, Jordan and Pakistan. In Germany, a US ally, 45 percent saw the US unfavorably.

The 44 percent of Chinese favorable rate for the US is on a par with the figure from 2011, but a decline from the 50 percent level of 2014.

Young people in China tend to have a favorable view of the US. This includes a 59 percent favorability rate among the 18-to-29 year-old age group, 45 percent among 30-to-49 year olds and 29 percent for those aged 50 and above.

Young people in the two countries are certainly engaged with each other in a deeper way. According to the Institute of International Education, there are about 270,000 Chinese students studying in US universities and colleges. That number is likely to grow further as more Chinese parents can afford to send their children to study abroad.

The Pew survey was conducted among 45,435 people in 40 countries from March 25 to May 2. It examines global public opinion about the US, China and the international balance of power and key issues in Asia.

Like most countries surveyed, 55 percent of Chinese regarded the US interrogation methods adopted since the September 11, 2001 attacks on terrorist suspects as unjustified. Only 24 percent thought the measures were justified.

In all, 45 percent of the Chinese surveyed believe the US respects personal freedom, while 37 percent did not think the US respects it, suggesting that the self-glorification by the US as the leader of personal freedom gets a mixed response among Chinese.

While the US State Department points fingers at China and other nations in its annual human rights report released on June 25, China followed by releasing its report on June 26 of the US' human rights record, highlighting the serious problems of gun violence, torture, racial discrimination, money in politics, lack of rights of women and rampant surveillance abroad by the National Security Agency.

On President Barack Obama's foreign policy, the Pew survey found that 44 percent of Chinese have confidence in Obama's handling of world affairs, while 41 percent do not.

Obama's dealings with China paint a mixed picture for people in 40 countries surveyed, with 36 percent approval and 35 percent disapproval. Among Americans, 47 percent approve of the way Obama is dealing with China; 42 percent disapprove.

Globally, 48 percent of the people surveyed think China will or has already replaced the US as the world's superpower, while 35 percent say China will never replace the US as the superpower.

Among Americans, 48 percent think China will never replace the US as the superpower while 46 percent say China will or has already done so.

Overall, more young people surveyed say China will replace or has already replaced the US as the superpower.

An International Monetary Fund report last October showed that in real terms of goods and services, China's economy of $17.6 trillion in 2014 will have outsized the $17.4 trillion by the US.

Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute told a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on June 17 that with China's economy slowing down and the US' recovering, fewer people expect to see China eclipse the US any time soon.

Contact the writer at chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com.

 

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