Despite generally favorable views towards each other, both Chinese and Americans have some rather mixed feelings towards each other: hope and fear, according to a survey named Hope & Fear: American and Chinese Attitudes Towards Each Other released in Washington on December 10.
Most Americans view China's growing economic and military power as a serious or potential threat while a large majority of Chinese believe that America is trying to prevent China from becoming a superpower.
The Committee of 100 (C-100) and the Zogby International polling firm conducted the survey from August 18 to September 19, 2007. It was held in both the United States and China. The poll covered a wide range of respondents, including the general public, opinion leaders and business leaders in both countries, as well as Congressional staffers in the US.
Respondents from both countries realized that the ties between China and the US are important. They believed that bilateral trade benefits both economies. Chinese and American business leaders felt optimistic about the potential of the Chinese economy and believed that China would become the largest exporter and the largest consumption market over the next 20 years.
Respondents from both countries generally believed that trade, energy and environment are the most important fields requiring cooperation between the two countries. For Americans, trade was the most likely area of shared interests but it also constituted the most likely source of conflict. Meanwhile, the Chinese believed that the Taiwan issue was the most likely source of conflict between the two nations.
According to Americans the two most obvious problems affecting the Sino-US relations were economic: the loss of US jobs to China and the growing trade deficit with China.
Both Chinese and American respondents had a negative opinion about the US government in dealing with the Sino-US relations. A large majority of Americans blamed their own government for the growing trade deficit with China.
A large number of respondents from both countries believed that human rights were another volatile issue between these two nations. American business leaders have expressed their criticism of China's attitude toward intellectual property rights protection.
It is worth noting that less than one-third of the American general public agreed that the US should intervene on behalf of Taiwan if a declaration of "independence" by Taiwan led to military hostilities. The proportion of business and opinion leaders in the US in support of intervention on behalf of Taiwan has also decreased but half of the US Congressional staff currently remains in favor of such intervention.
More than two thirds of the American public has reduced confidence in Chinese-manufactured goods as a result of the food and toy safety problems that have recently come to light. Forty-four percent of the Chinese public also felt that Americans had lowered their confidence in Chinese made goods.
Eighty-one percent of the American respondents agreed that China's global influence has increased over the past 10 years. Respondents from both countries felt that China would become the most influential power in East Asia 20 years from now.
A majority of the Chinese general public (55 percent) and business leaders (53 percent) believed that China would become a superpower in twenty years while 50 percent of the American respondents believed that the US would maintain its status as a super power.
Both Americans and Chinese respondents agreed that the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games would improve China's global image and economy. They believed that China would show the world "a prosperous modern nation with a proud culture and history" via the Olympic Games. Thirty percent of the Chinese respondents also thought that the Olympic Games would help the world to learn about China's "harmonious society". However, 53 percent of the US Congressional staff felt that China should project itself as "a responsible stakeholder in the international system."
(China.org.cn by Zhang Ming'ai, December 12, 2007)