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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

December 20, 2007

Written by C.N.

How the World Sees China

How has recent news and media coverage about China’s economic rise combined with negative publicity about its unsafe consumer goods affected its overall image around the world? To shed light on that question, the well-respected Pew Research Center says that in most countries, China actually has a better public image than the U.S., although there is a general downward trend of China’s image over the years:

Pew Research Center survey on global attitudes toward China

In 27 of the 46 nations plus the Palestinian Territories, opinion regarding China is decidedly favorable; in just five countries are views of China significantly more negative than positive. By comparison, opinion about the United States is favorable in 25 of the 47 countries; but decidedly negative in many more countries – half or more of the publics in 18 countries express disapproving views of the United States.

China’s fans are most prevalent in the neighboring Asian countries of Malaysia (83% favorable), Pakistan (79%), Bangladesh (74%), Indonesia (65%), as well as in most African countries. . . . While global opinion of China remains mostly positive, it has soured somewhat in recent years – though not as widely as have attitudes toward the United States. . . .

The largest declines are observed among of China’s Asian neighbors (Japan, South Korea, and India), but significant slippage is also seen in Western Europe (Britain, France, Germany, Spain). . . . In 32 of 46 countries surveyed, China’s increasing military muscle is viewed with alarm.

Ironically, in addition to some of China’s biggest admirers being other Asian countries, other Asian countries are also its biggest detractors — Japan, India, South Korea, and Indonesia in particular (although for the last three, more of its citizens still have a positive attitude about China than a negative one).

What seems to be more troubling for China is that its image is clearly experiencing a downward trend — in 10 of 19 countries with longitudinal data, China’s image has fallen since 2002, with Nigeria being the only country in which China’s image has improved since 2002.

What I find most interesting is that the fears that many around the world have about China is not its growing economic power, growing thirst for oil, concerns over the quality of its consumer goods, nor its environmental record. Instead, the biggest fear is its rising military strength.

Granted that China has a million-man army and nuclear weapons, but unless I’m completely missing something, China has not been throwing its military weight around by threatening countries left and right, or by invading sovereign nations and overthrowing their governments, correct?

So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m slightly confused why people around the world, especially those who are not China’s regional neighbors, say their biggest fear about China is its military strength. If somebody can elaborate on that for me, please feel free.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "How the World Sees China" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/12/how-the-world-sees-china/> ().

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