Note: Due to upcoming travel, I’m once again playing with the
schedule for this column. The next one will now be July 10.
A new report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has some
interesting statements on attitudes towards the United States as
well as China among various Asian nations. I became aware of
this through a story by Richard Halloran in the South China
Morning Post so I perused the Chicago Council’s report, which
was a joint effort with the East Asia Institute, and pass on some
of the following conclusions of the authors.
The report is based on public opinion surveys in five East and
Southeast Asian countries – China, Japan, South Korea,
Indonesia and Vietnam – and the United States.
Titled “Soft Power in Asia”:
--Majorities in Japan, South Korea and Indonesia (Vietnam
wasn’t asked) are at least “somewhat worried” that China could
become a military threat to their country in the future.
--China trails the United States in perceptions of its diplomatic,
political, and human capital power in Asia, though perceptions
are more positive in Southeast Asia than East Asia. China is also
seen as less effective than the United States in promoting its
policies to people in Asia by all surveyed publics.
--On the question as to whether China builds trust and
cooperation among Asian countries, it receives low ratings on a
0-10 scale from Americans (3.5), Japanese (4.6) and South
Koreans (4.9), ranking third or fourth among the group.
--But when asked whether China will increase its prestige by
hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, all countries surveyed –
U.S. (49%), China (86%), Japan (56%), South Korea (82%),
Indonesia (65%) and Vietnam (85%) – agree that it would.
--On human rights and the rule of law, with the exception of
Indonesians (6.8), China receives low ratings from Americans
(2.7), Japanese (3.9), and South Koreans (4.5).
On U.S. influence .
--The U.S. ranks at or near the top of every category in the Soft
--Pluralities in China (44%), Japan (47%), South Korea (42%)
and Indonesia (58%) all agree that U.S. influence in Asia has
increased over the last 10 years. Majorities in China, Japan,
Vietnam and South Korea see U.S. influence in Asia as positive.
--The United States is given the highest mean score for
importance as a trade and investment partner by South Koreans
(8.5 on a 0-10 scale), Japanese (8.0) and Vietnamese (8.0).
Chinese give both the United States and the EU the same score
(7.6), significantly ahead of Japan (6.7) and South Korea (6.8).
Chinese views of the United States are much more positive than
American feelings towards China, which have steadily declined
--Americans have very cool feelings toward China in both
absolute and relative terms. On a 0-100 feeling scale, Americans
give China a very low average rating of 35, down from 40 in
2006 and 44 in 2004.
--Chinese give the United States an average rating of 61 on the
0-100 scale of feelings, which is significantly warmer than the
rating of 51 which it received in 2006. Like Americans, Chinese
people believe that economic relations (trade and investment)
with the U.S. are extremely important to their country’s economy
--Americans do not think they share a way of life with the
Chinese – 68% say they shared “no” or “little” values in common
with Chinese, and 63% think it’s only “slightly” or “not at all
important” for their children to study Chinese.
--Forty-one percent of Chinese would pick the U.S. as first
choice for their children’s higher education; 82% believed it is
“very important” for their children to learn English in order to
succeed in the future, and on a 0-10 scale they express across-
the-board admiration for the quality of American science and
technology (8.8), the appeal of its popular culture (7.5), the
American entrepreneurial spirit (7.9), and a political system that
serves the needs of its people (7.4).
The conclusion to all of the above, “China has a long way to go
to claim full recognition as a multifaceted power.”
Hot Spots will return July 10.