Foreign and Military Affairs

Survey: Chinese put EU ties above others

Updated: 2011-02-18 07:21

By Zhang Chunyan & Zhang Haizhou (China Daily)

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LONDON - Chinese people view Sino-EU relations more favorably than relations with the United States and many other countries, according to a survey conducted in six major Chinese cities.

Among the respondents, 74.1 percent viewed the European Union positively, while 73.6 percent did so for Russia and 59.9 percent for the United States.

Wang Zhengxu, project coordinator of Chinese View of the EU, and acting director and senior research fellow of the China Policy Institute of the University of Nottingham, revealed the results on Wednesday in London.

Conducted in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Chengdu and Nanning, the survey polled 3,019 randomly selected people.

The EU remained China's largest trade partner in 2010, and China is one of the EU's top markets. In Europe, many people are interested in the rapid development and colorful culture of China.

However, China-EU relations experienced ups and downs in recent years. In 2008, China cancelled the China-EU summit at the last minute, in response to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to meet the Dalai Lama.

Lacking knowledge about China, some European people are skeptical about its political system and human rights, and concerned about the impact China has on the global environment.

To promote communication and cooperation and overcome misunderstanding, Chinese and European leaders have increased the exchange of visits in recent years. Both sides have enhanced cooperation not only in business and trade, but also in the fields of education and culture.

Wang said China and Europe enjoy favorable conditions for further enhancing trust and cooperation in the future.

"The perception of another country or power plays an important role in public preferences regarding foreign policy," said Wang.

China has signed many technology partnership agreements with the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and France in recent months, highlighting the important role of advanced European technology in the low-carbon and sustainable development of Chinese industries.

Wang's outlook was shared by European experts.

"The more positive the people's attitudes are, the greater is the willingness to cooperate politically," said Henk Dekker, professor of political socialization and integration at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Jan Delhey, professor of sociology at Germany's Jacobs University Bremen, said: "International trust has been shown to have a significant effect on citizens' opinions about foreign affairs."

Quoting the survey, Dekker said 88 percent of respondents think China and the EU should increase their cooperation.

The project will help Europeans form a better understanding of what the Chinese think and why, providing a basis for the further development of the EU's China policies, said Richard Pascoe, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham.

The survey, funded by the EU's 7th Framework Research Program at a cost of 1.4 million euros ($1.9 million), aimed to investigate in detail what China thinks of the EU and examine the implications.

China Daily

(China Daily 02/18/2011 page11)


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