US gets 'feel good' rap from Chinese

By Tan Yingzi China Daily
Updated: 2010-06-24 00:00
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WASHINGTON — The continued Obamania in China, strong self-satisfaction in the Chinese economy and growing national pride among Chinese people are resulting in a more positive attitude toward the United States, analysts said.

Despite trade disputes and diplomatic tension between China and the US in recent years, more and more Chinese people now like the US, a new global survey released last week said.

The findings from the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes poll show that the US’s favorability ratings in China improved sharply to 58 percent, up 11 points since last year. In 2007, only 34 percent of Chinese liked America.

More than 73 percent of Chinese say relations with the US have improved in recent years, and many Chinese (68 percent) consider the relationship between the two countries as one of cooperation, with only 8 percent evaluating it as one of hostility, the survey shows.

The survey of 24,000 people in 22 countries shows US President Barack Obama remains widely popular.

“Our headline today is that President Obama remains highly popular in most parts of the world — even though his job approval rating has slipped considerably in the United States – and his continued popularity around the world benefits the image of the US,” said Andrew Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Center and the director of its Global Attitudes Project.

“Opinions of the US remain far more positive in 2010 than they were for much of the Bush years.”

The project was conducted in April and early May in 22 countries both by telephone and through face-to-face interviews by the center, a nonpartisan organization in Washington DC.

Though ratings of Obama have declined since he took office, 52 percent of Chinese have confidence in the US president and believe he will do the rights things in world affairs.

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the co-chair of the project, said the Chinese attitude toward Obama will help him in many world affairs.

“I am looking into it, as a former US policymaker, in a very positive way,” she said. “President Obama has been viewed very positively and it allows him to do the lists of things with positive approaches, such as the nuclear security summit.”

Albright said the general sense of satisfaction among Chinese people may also help boost their confidence in the bilateral relations.

China is clearly the most self-satisfied country in the survey.

In 20 of the 22 countries surveyed, less than half the population was satisfied with the direction of their country, including only 30 percent of Americans. But most Chinese are happy with the direction of their country (87 percent), feel good about the state of their economy (91 percent) and are optimistic about the nation’s economic future (87 percent).

Moreover, about three out of four Chinese (76 percent) think the US takes into account Chinese interests when it makes foreign policy.

Since 1978 when China implemented its open and reform policies, the US has always been the favorite foreign country among the Chinese.

The latest national tourism survey in China shows the US is the top overseas destination. A Gallup Poll conducted last year reported that one out of five college-educated Chinese students wants to emigrate, with the US (28 percent) being the preferred country. More than 300 million Chinese people are learning English, and about 100,000 Chinese are studying in the US.

The US is still a top pick among rich Chinese people, although it’s harder to go immigrate there than to Canada or Australia, other favored destinations.

But feelings are different on the other side; less than half, 49 percent, of Americans have a positive view of China.

Half of the respondents in the US (52 percent) see China as neither a partner nor an enemy. Even though only a quarter of Americans see China as a partner, this reflects a 12-percentage-point increase since 2008, when the question was last asked.

Concerns about China’s economic might are high among Americans, with 47 percent seeing China’s economic strength as a bad thing for their country and only 40 percent saying it is a good thing.

And eight out of 10 Americans have a negative view about China’s growing military prowess.

Orville Schell, Arthur Ross director of the Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations, told China Daily earlier that in recent months, there are “deep concerns” among Americans and Europeans about China with its growing economic power.

“There is an obvious change of attitude toward China among US and European people, and I can say, it’s not for better,” he said.

“People think China’s position is much more forceful and China is less willing to negotiate and compromise for cooperative solutions.”