World public opinion charming to China

​ By George N. Tzogopoulos
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 19, 2018
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Under the leadership of its President Xi Jinping China is transforming itself. The change it is gradually undergoing affects both national economics and its international presence. While the realization of the "New Normal" is driving its growth rates, its investments abroad are influencing its relations with several other world nations. These are subsequently assisting China's public diplomacy efforts. Unsurprisingly, the country's image is improving. 

People rode shared bicycles on Chang'an Avenue in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 3, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

A few days ago, the results of the 2016-2017 survey jointly conducted by the Center for International Communication Studies under the China International Publishing Group, and Kantar Millward Brown and Lightspeed, were released and are shedding light on recent trends. A total of 11,000 respondents from 22 countries located in Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania shared their view on China. 

Specifically, China scores 6.22 on the 10-point system. What is perhaps more important is that younger citizens aged between 18 and 35 (6.6 points) gave higher scores than older ones, aged between 36-50 (6.1 points) and 51-65 (5.6 points). In other words, age seemed to play a role in the public evaluation of China around the world. The younger a person is the more favorably it portrays the country. This is certainly benefiting China which is slowly becoming more powerful through adapting a long-term approach. 

Moreover, the survey shows that developing countries (6.9 points) had better impressions than developed ones (5.6 points). This difference can be possibly explained because China is enjoying particularly close relations with developing countries sharing similar concerns and goals and is active in mechanisms such as the BRICS. The survey exhibits that a large percentage of individuals (69 percent) asked in those countries view their relations to China as "very important." This number is lower in developed states (50 percent). 

However, China's perception is on the rise even among developed countries. Respondents in Canada, Italy and the U.K., for example, did value China higher in the recent survey in comparison to that of 2015. On the whole, the 5.6 score of 2016-2017 is higher than that of 2015 (5.5), 2014 (5.0) and 2013 (4.9).

Furthermore, China's contribution to global governance is showing a satisfactory level of recognition scoring 6.5 points. Science and technology, economy and culture are largely representing its strengths. Progress achieved in these sectors is obviously attracting international attention for two main reasons. First, China is an economic colossus, which might be the largest world economy in a few years according to estimations of numerous respondents (33 percent), as well as investments in innovation, research and development. 

That is because these respondents are expecting closer collaboration between their countries and China in these fields. And second it is a big oriental country with a rich history and full of charm, in the words of interviewees themselves. From another perspective, Chinese cuisine should not be ignored as 72 percent of interviewees praised its taste. 

It is also interesting that China is ranked second – after the U.S. – in terms of influence in global affairs. This can be perhaps attributed to China's increasing role at the UN level and its active participation in several of its operations, for instance in peacekeeping missions. Additionally, its responsibility in respecting its obligations in significant international accords such as the Paris Climate Agreement is contributing to its continuous applause at the world level. Russia, Germany and the U.K. are following China in the rankings regarding influence in global affairs. 

Within this framework, the Belt and Road Initiative is strengthening China's international profile. While only 6 percent of asked overseas individuals had heard of it in 2014, the ratio rose to 18 percent in the recently published 2016-2017 poll. Respondents from countries located in China's wide neighborhood tend to better familiarize themselves with the Initiative. Here, Beijing can again count on time. When "win-win" results are practically realized in countries where either the maritime or the land routes pass, they will be largely credited to Chinese-led infrastructure works or loans. 

The more China is growing the more people are knowing about it. Some flaws remain and the recent survey does not hide them. Respondents, for instance, are concerned about the quality of some Chinese products. But even this is in the process of being fixed in some years through the "Made in China 2025" strategy. In a nutshell, China is on the way to expanding its world popularity. Its successes are rewarded with rising recognition.

George N. Tzogopoulos is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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