Report: American and Chinese Perceptions on U.S.-China Relations

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Apr. 23 – An overwhelming majority of the American and Chinese public believes trade is mutually beneficial, but concerns about the trade deficit, intellectual property protection, job loss, product safety, and corruption also make trade the leading source of bilateral conflict, according to the 2012 Public Perceptions & Opinions Survey released on Friday by the Chinese-American cultural-exchange advocacy organization the Committee of 100.

The survey findings provide unique, comprehensive and comparative information that can be used to enhance U.S.-China relations and formulate recommendations on how to forge mutually beneficial partnerships, including leader-to-leader, people-to-people, organization-to-organization, and many others to foster greater understanding and build trust between the United States and China.

“We will use this study to advocate for constructive relationship-building between the peoples of the U.S. and China, and to further promote education, diplomacy and leadership development,” said Committee of 100 Chairman Dominic Ng.

The survey addresses key trade and investment issues such as concern over intellectual property rights, the benefits of bilateral trade, the advantages of Chinese imports to the American consumer, Chinese product safety, outsourcing of American jobs to China, technology transfers, and the most prominent business concerns facing industry leaders in both countries.

In addition, the report touches on a slew of hot button issues including U.S. involvement in Taiwan, each country’s performance in handling environmental issues such as global warming, the role and influence of the media in each country, the growing global influence of China’s middle class, and each country’s ranking of the world’s top super powers 20 years from now.

The U.S. survey was conducted by Harris Interactive and included 1,000 individuals from the general public, 244 opinion leaders, 120 business leaders, and 36 policy makers. Horizon Research Consultancy Group was responsible for the Chinese side of the survey, which included 3,775 individuals from the general adult population, 216 opinion leaders and 162 business leaders.

A sample of some of the survey results can be found below.

How would you describe your impression of China?
Responses in the United States

  • General public: 55 percent favorable, 37 percent unfavorable, 8 percent not sure
  • Opinion leaders: 62 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable, 3 percent not sure
  • Business leaders: 72 percent favorable, 27 percent unfavorable, 2 percent not sure
  • Policy makers: 42 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable, 11 percent not sure

How would you describe your impression of the United States?
Responses in China

  • General public: 59.3 percent favorable, 30.4 percent unfavorable, 8.5 percent not sure
  • Opinion leaders: 93.5 percent favorable, 5.1 percent unfavorable, 1.4 percent not sure
  • Business leaders: 90.2 percent favorable, 6.2 percent unfavorable, 3.7 percent not sure

Which country currently has a better international image?
Responses in the United States

  • General public: 69 percent for the United States, 24 percent for China
  • Opinion leaders: 82 percent for the United States, 10 percent for China
  • Business leaders: 79 percent for the United States, 13 percent for China
  • Policy makers: 78 percent for the United States, 17 percent for China

Responses in China

  • General public: 60.6 percent for China, 12 percent for the United States
  • Opinion leaders: 23.6 percent for China, 47.7 percent for the United States
  • Business leaders: 46.3 percent for China, 37 percent for the United States

In your opinion, what will be China’s role in the global economy 20 years from now?
Response rankings from business leaders in the United States

  1. World’s largest consumer economy
  2. World’s largest exporter
  3. Key destination for outsourcing manufacturing
  4. Key destination for outsourcing services
  5. Leader in developing high-tech products

Response rankings from business leaders in China

  1. World’s largest consumer economy
  2. Key destination for outsourcing manufacturing
  3. World’s largest exporter
  4. Key destination for outsourcing services
  5. Leader in developing high-tech products

The Committee of 100’s opinion survey project began in 1994 and produced opinion surveys in 2001, 2005, 2007, and 2012. The objective of this study is to determine American attitudes toward China and, as a “mirror,” measure Chinese attitudes toward America on key issues in US-China relations and salient domestic issues in both countries.

The 2012 Public Perceptions & Opinions Survey can be downloaded in its entirety by clicking here.

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