The Pew Research Center's recent global opinion polls say Chinese are more satisfied with the direction of their country than people in the United States. The results seem baffling as average American families enjoy far higher livelihood and far more rights – as always boasted by American politicians and press.
The mystery is perhaps shrouded in our perceptions of what we are taught to believe. Coming out of the cocoon called "proletariat revolution" about 30 years ago, Chinese people are loath to being led to another ideological struggle. They had tasted the bitterness of a relentless strife – nothing but poverty. By just getting rid of ideological squabbles, China was released from the shackles and its steady ascent started.
However, Americans are taught to be democracy and freedom fighters. They have sent their soldiers to foreign countries to fight for their moral highland. At home, they, too, have dug deep and solidified fortifications. The people there are getting increasingly agitated and antagonized against each other, divided by political party doctrines, religious beliefs, and differences in "trivialities" like abortion and gay marriage –all ideology. The politicians at the White House and the Congress are always quarrelling, getting little done.
That is why when both peoples were asked the same question: "Overall, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in your country today?" in the last poll in late 2010, 87 percent of Chinese answered "satisfied", contrasting to only 30 percent in the U.S. And, the gap between China and the U.S. has been widening. The first year Pew included China in the survey, in 2005, only 72 percent Chinese said they were content, compared with 39 percent in the U.S.
Over a five-year period, the gap in the number answering "satisfied" between the two countries has widened from 33 percent to 57 percent. During those five years, China's economy attained an annual more than 10 percent growth – Chinese income rose by the same magnitude, while the U.S.' average growth is merely 2 percent – cut short by the 2009 Wall Street crisis and a subsequent Great Recession, which has left many families toiling in stark financial doldrums till today.