By: Dominic Ng
A new survey conducted by The Committee of 100 (C-100), a national non-partisan, non-profit Chinese-American cultural-exchange advocacy organization, reveals that, despite growing mistrust, citizens from both nations acknowledge the need for improved political and business cooperation and diplomacy. The C-100 study provides insight into a broad swath of U.S. and Chinese perceptions of U.S.-China relations and compares them to its similar 2007 “mirror” survey.
“We will use this study to advocate for constructive relationship-building between the peoples of the U.S. and China and to further promote education, diplomacy, and leadership development,” said Dominic Ng, C-100 Chairman and Chairman and CEO of Los-Angeles-based East West Bank. “It is a unique survey due to its large sample size of everyday Chinese citizens, comprehensive questions, and the apparent willingness of the Chinese public and key Chinese business and opinion leaders to express their views on controversial topics and areas of unease.”
The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive in the United States and Horizon Research Consultancy Group in China, and titled “U.S.-China Public Perceptions Opinion Survey 2012,”[i] compares the views of American and Chinese public and elites (business and opinion leaders). This study measures significant shifts in U.S. and Chinese attitudes since 2007 on high-impact economic, political, and security issues, including bilateral trade and investment, U.S. military presence in the Asia Pacific, and China’s emergence as a military and economic global power.
The Chinese public (58.4%) believes China will overtake the U.S. and become the world’s leading superpower in twenty years. In contrast, Chinese business and opinion leaders are skeptical about China’s global role, with only 37% and 23.1%, respectively, considering superpower status a likely scenario.
While the Chinese elite and the U.S. public still believe the U.S. will be the leading superpower in twenty years, U.S. confidence in its global role since 2007 has dropped to 47% from 69% among U.S. business leaders, and 62% to 55% among U.S. opinion leaders.
Chinese elites and the public are increasingly willing to criticize their own government openly, and feel much more negatively than they did in 2007. Chinese business leaders (54.3%) negatively rate the Chinese government’s handling of bilateral relations with the U.S. – up from 19%, opinion leaders give a 74.5% negative rating – up from 37%, and the public gives a 36.3% rating – up from 27%.
The U.S. is doing a fair to poor job of handling relations with China, according to the majority of both countries’ publics and elites. Reaction is most negative among Chinese elites, with 71.8% of opinion leaders rating the U.S. as fair to poor – up from 66% in 2007 – while 66.5% of business leaders give a low rating – up from 50%.
Trade and Social Issues
Approximately two-thirds of U.S. business and opinion leaders see China’s emergence as a global economic power as a serious or potential threat to the U.S. In contrast, a similar proportion of China’s elites has positive feelings and believes that China is an economic partner with the U.S. or no threat at all. Just under one-third of U.S. elites view China as an economic partner.
Poor intellectual property rights protection ranks first among U.S. business leaders’ top concerns about doing business in China (81% up from 69%). In contrast, less than half of China’s business leaders consider intellectual property rights protection policy to have a negative impact on foreign investment.
U.S. and Chinese elites each think the media of the other country does not report accurately on its counterpart, with over 55% of U.S. elites and 60% of China elites holding this belief. More than 50% of both countries’ publics are also unconvinced they are getting accurate information.
The study concludes that improving international trust through greater public diplomacy, educational exchange, and leadership initiatives will be instrumental in effectively easing international tensions and nurturing common interests. Identification of actionable opportunities for collaboration and trust building will continue at the C-100’s 21st Annual Conference, which was help in Pasadena, California.
For more information and to access an interactive version of the study visit: http://survey.committee100.org