China’s International Image and Influence: What Foreigners “Really” Think

China’s International Image and Influence: What Foreigners “Really” Think
Dec 24, 2013 By

Editor’s note: China is a powerful country with enormous political and economic power – but really, is it? Is it really?

To assuage our fears, this translated Chinese article confirms our beliefs by emphasizing the rise of China through the tacit acknowledgement of foreigners located all around the world.

Source: Francisco Diez

On December 7, the Public Opinion Research Center of the “Global Times” published an international report, which investigated what foreigners really think of China. People from 14 countries participated in the investigation. 30.3% of respondents say that the term “self-confident” is the most apt term in describing China’s international image. Other descriptions respondents thought apt include, “Advocating militarization”, “complicated”, “diligent and thrifty”, “emphasize family values” and “friendly.”

The topic of this project is “2013 World-Wide Investigation of China’s International Image and Influence”. The survey solicited the opinions of average people located throughout 14 countries across the world, with the aim of gathering public opinion and perspective so as to ascertain China’s current influence, national image and diplomatic relations within the international stage. The 14 countries involved in the study were; Australia, Brazil, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, the Philippines, UK, USA, South Africa, South Korea, Vietnam and China itself.

In regards to where they get their information about China, 44.4% of foreign respondents say they read “famous international media outlets (like CNN and BBC)” while only 12.1% say they get this information in their country from “Chinese news media disseminated within their country”.

How much power does China have?

In regards to the power of China, 60% of foreign respondents say that China is “already a world power” while 26% of respondents say that China is “not yet a total world power”. Only 6.1% of survey participants say that China “is not a world power”.

In regards to what kind of powers China possesses as a world power, 73.0% of foreign respondents answered with “economic power”; 34.3% answered with “political and diplomatic power”; while 23.6% and 22.2% of respondents answered with “military power” and “cultural influence”, respectively.

Foreign interviewees are inclined to believe that in the next 10 years the country with the most international influence will still be the US, with China in second. However, when asked specifically about Asian affairs these respondents believed China will be the dominant country and the US will be second, highlighting that China’s international image and influence is much stronger in Asia.

What does the future of China’s partnerships look like?

China has done well to promote its international image and influence in Africa; out of all the surveys, respondents in Kenya and South Africa think that their country has the best diplomatic and political relations with China at the present time. On the other hand, respondents in Japan and Vietnam think that their country’s relations with China are the worst.

Worth noting is that the number of respondents that like China are much more numerous than respondents that don’t like China. 64.3% of respondents from Kenya state that they like China, while over half of respondents from Japan state that they don’t like China.

Additionally, 40.8% of respondents think that their home country will engage in co-operative relationships with China over the next ten years; of this group, 16.4% believe that their countries will become “co-operative partners”, and 24.4% of respondents think that their country will become “strategic co-operative partners”. Respondents who have the opinion that their home country will have an “antagonistic relationship” with China only total 7.1% of all respondents.

Furthermore, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan all have stronger impressions due to the problem of the territorial dispute. Respondents from the Philippines are more inclined to have the US intervene and solve the territorial dispute.

Source: Wenxuecity

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Keywords: China’s international image and influence Variations: power of China; China’s partnerships; co-operative relationships with China; diplomatic power; economic power


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Now I know what I think. I was wondering about this very question.

Jan 16, 2014 19:01 Report Abuse



Somehow, I get the impression that the survey's questions were biased (shocker!). I can't imagine the survey having contained answers like 'Theyre rude/arrogant/selfish/etc', even though there should be. This seems more like yet another way to boost one's ego, rather than a survey of actual value. How are respondents supposed to act when the survey already seems to imply that China's a world power/cultured country/future world leader? I'm sure there were plenty of respondents who knew close to nothing about China and simply ticked a box, most likely not giving too much of a shit about the survey's outcome anyway. I mean, why would the Chinese even give half a shit about opinions of people half across the world who most likely will never visit the place, if not just to affirm and show off their country's greatness?

Dec 31, 2013 12:43 Report Abuse



Hey, your comment just made me realize: The farther away Chinese media travels, the more foreign opinion towards China improves. Why? Because the less you know about China, the closer your opinion will gravitate towards neutral. I think the survey makers unwittingly confirmed that they *know* knowledgeable opinions of China are very low - that's why they had to travel so far to find people with high regard for China.

Feb 07, 2014 15:45 Report Abuse



Again. . .alot of words that mean next to nothing. Typical for most new media.

Dec 30, 2013 18:41 Report Abuse



This comment comes from the original Chinese article discussions. "上车争先恐后,不排队;公共场合大声喧哗;开车不守规则,不礼让;随地吐痰,乱扔垃圾??????別急,希望老外说的不是你." The getting onto the bus part is a bit tricky to translate, the other parts are quite direct. "Getting onto the bus as if it is a 'gold rush'; no lining-up; yelling in public; lawless driving; no manners; spitting everywhere; throwing garbage anywhere. I hope you are not the one the laowei(s) are talking about." To me, this kind of indirect teaching is far more important than getting them tomemorize the complete work of Shakespeare. What's the use with a brain full of poems when you act like a crossbreed between an ape and a cavemen? Very ironic for a 5000+ year civilization having to learn how to behave like a civilized humanoid....what have they learnt for the last 5000+ years, really? Better late than never.

Dec 28, 2013 09:52 Report Abuse



This is what i define as the syndrome of the "new clothes of the Emperor". Naked, arrogantly naked people. Let them be the laugh, if that's what they want. Who am I to tell them the truth? In the story likewise, it will be the children of this Country who will start to laugh at the Emperor, meaning the generation that is and the very following ones.

Dec 24, 2013 17:53 Report Abuse



The Chinese have an idiom that is something like, foreign invasion and internal revolt; it means the end of a dynasty. To think of China in long periods of peace punctuated by conflict and disaster is totally incorrect. Throughout history, China has only had one extended period of peace: The Tang Dynasty. Literally every other time in the history of this country, there were invasions, revolts, wars, diplomatic shuffles, internal squabbling, corruption, ineptitude, famine, flood and regicide. China's enemies are not the Japanese or the Mongols. The only real enemy China has is itself. The Mongol armies killed far fewer than the Song Dynasty's incompetence in governance and diplomacy. More people died under Mao Zedong's leadership than all of World War II combined. What history has proven time and again is that China falls to minor neighboring powers like the Jurchens and the Khitan not because of military superiority, but because failed statehood has been a genuine threat in nearly every Chinese generation. Even now, with monthly, even weekly terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, land grabs by corrupt politicians (who knows how many actually turned up dead by a farmer with nothing to lose), unpopular policies like internet censorship and insanely high taxation, liquidity crunches in the banks so no one but the top 1% can get credit and a housing market that prevents all but the wealthiest among us to buy a home. Politicians can force children into patriotism classes all they want, it still won't prevent the people from throwing them under the bus given the chance for a bigger slice of the pie. Some foreigners fear the tiger, but I think most of us expats in China know its made of paper.

Dec 24, 2013 15:47 Report Abuse



I agree very well put. China has historically been a tributary nation, paying off mongol hordes and foreign armies to leave them alone. Their culture does a great job of setting up a hierarchy to insulate people at the top, but then since that power is based solely on their position in the hierarchy it doesn't work on any outsiders, who can sense their weakness a mile away. I think that's why there is this top-down imperative to resist foreign influence and place chinese culture up on a pedestal. Take a powerful Chinese guy and he can abuse wait staff, harass stewardesses etc. AS LONG as those people they abuse "buy-in" to the hierarchy. Put some arrogant Chinese guy in a restaurant in Chicago slapping a waitress and he's going to get his ass kicked and thrown in jail. I honestly think that's why the jackasses here tend to avoid flying the foreign-owned airlines for international travel. Lufthansa is objectively WAY better than crappy Air China, but you have to behave like an adult when you fly it even if your feel your cousin is a major player at the post office!

Dec 26, 2013 15:55 Report Abuse



This is going to be an interesting 50 years for China - Li is going to need all of that PhD in economics to transition away from the unsustainable boom of the late 90s and 00s (don't mention the inflation, shhh).

Dec 24, 2013 11:50 Report Abuse



crap. he studied economics? economics majors have trouble finding jobs because all of the contradictory dogmas they learned arent useful to companies. i tried discussing the unsustainability of cyclical consumption, or even how consumer brand loyalty subverts the supply-demand structure thy're so convinced defines economic reality. they havent learned much except magical wishful thinking. if *he* is in charge, better to escape the burning house before it collapses

Dec 24, 2013 12:05 Report Abuse



I wouldn't be so quick to write off the economic know-how of the leaders of the most financially successful nation in the world today. Chinese leaders come into their jobs better prepared than most because they've been on the "leadership track" for years. True, there's a massive, dumb, inert bureaucracy to deal with and a local government system which frequently leaks money and political direction like a sieve, but it has produced alot of wealth (albeit raw, smelly and often ill gotten) in a very short period of time. I wouldn't argue that the average economics student wouldn't know quantitative easing if you gave him a copy of the Economist and a tub of vaseline but those at the very top are a different matter.

Dec 24, 2013 13:24 Report Abuse



OMG if you can prove that consumer brand loyalty subverts the supply-demand structure you should write a paper and submit it to the Nobel Prize folks. Seriously.

Dec 24, 2013 21:05 Report Abuse



And all this statistical analysis means....just what? The article has selected the two extremes as examples of a love / hate relationship a couple of countries have with China. It would have been interesting to see how the figures came out from countries like the USA, Australia and the UK. The problem with the survey is that the questions were directed to people not living in China it seems and these same people got their news about China from newspapers and television. I'm not sure that what is reported in those media is 100% reliable. The international image that China likes to portray is, I feel, somewhat different to reality. How about the same survey questions asked of existing foreign residents in China? It would be interesting to see whether the perceptions of those of us who live and work here is in any way similar to the results we see presented in this article. I'm thinking not.

Dec 24, 2013 06:22 Report Abuse



it's just a bit of ego-massaging for the chinese. after all the criticisms actual expats here on the ground have, editors decided to react by reminding everybody tha china's international image is still one that commands respect and admiration. face saved!

Dec 24, 2013 08:52 Report Abuse



Yes Daqing you make an interesting point. Western media is very unreliable when it comes to reporting about China and most other world issues. Western media likes to focus on the negative topics, and even creates stories that don't exist for the purpose of trying to instill fear into society. Had I believed everything the western media told me about China, I would have never come here in the first place. The fact is, China is completely different to what I expected before I came. Sure it has it's problems, but what country doesnt?

Dec 24, 2013 09:32 Report Abuse



with western media portraying a doom and gloom evil empire, and chinese state media emphasizing the happy happy joy joy bright side, you'd think expats might actually have some valuable insights. but i think both sides prefer to stick with their own media and the simplistic story it purveys.

Dec 24, 2013 10:32 Report Abuse



Good point. Most people who haven't actually lived, worked, studied, or spent any meaningful amount of time in China have no idea what they are talking about. We know what's up.

Dec 24, 2013 11:41 Report Abuse