Arrogant or confident?

By Bai Tiantian and Wen Ya Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-10 0:08:02

China is increasingly seen as more confident as people worldwide view the country as one of the major world powers, a survey conducted by the Global Times Global Poll Center has shown.

Some 30.3 percent of the respondents picked "confident" as the most suitable word to describe China's global image and 60 percent said China has already become a world power. 

More than 14,400 residents from 14 countries, including the US, Russia, Japan, India, Vietnam and South Korea, were polled between November 11 to November 26.

Titled "China's Global Image and International Influence in 2013," the poll is the first political survey conducted by a Chinese media agency on a global scale as the country grows increasingly more concerned about its soft power.

Mixed image

According to the survey, some 30.3 percent of the respondents see China as a "confident" nation. Some 29.4 percent describe the country as "belligerent" and 28.1 percent say it is "complicated."

People also describe China with words such as "tough," "arrogant" and "cooperative," with each being chosen by about 25 percent. Only 13.3 percent of the respondents think China is peaceful.

Chinese people, on the other hand, struck foreigners as being "thrifty," "family-oriented" and "friendly."

"There is nothing wrong about being confident. But the problem with regard to China's international image arises from its unnecessary military might projection," Rajeev Sharma, a New Delhi-based journalist and commentator on international relations, told the Global Times.

Swaran Singh, a professor from the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told the Global Times that he does not see any contradiction in China being seen as confident, complicated, belligerent and even tough and arrogant.

"These can be seen as elements of any rapidly evolving rising power," said Singh.

Some 60 percent of the respondents say they already consider China as one of the world powers. When asked what conditions China has met to be a world power, 73 percent choose "economic power," 34.3 percent "political and diplomatic influence," and 23.6 percent "military prowess."

Some 76.9 percent of respondents from South Africa and 74.2 percent from the UK recognize China as a world power, the highest among all 14 countries. Over 60 percent of the respondents from the US, Brazil and South Korea also see China as having global status.

In comparison, only 48.4 percent of respondents from Vietnam, 45.5 percent from Russia and 45.2 percent from the Philippines say China is a global power.

Fretful neighbors

The survey shows that the closer you are to China, the more likely you are to have a negative view of it. Some 25.4 percent of respondents from the neighboring countries said they like China, 10.6 percent lower than those from the non-neighboring countries.

Some 73.1 percent respondents from China's non-neighboring countries believe that China will  make rapid economic progress, compared with 67 percent from the neighboring countries.

Respondents from the neighboring countries also often believe their countries would have a competitive or confrontational relationship with China in 10 years.

China has more commercial and cultural contacts with Asian countries and has made great efforts to push for the development of Asia, including establishing free trade areas and offering aid to some Asian countries, but the gains haven't matched the efforts, Chu Shulong, a professor with the School of Public Management at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times.

"The reason why China's image with its immediate neighbors is more complicated is due to Asia's colonial history and its legacies of disputed boundaries," said Sharma, adding that this image is not a "correct" understanding of China's rise.

"China needs to develop its soft power. It needs to be gentle in its conduct of neighborhood diplomacy. Similarly, it must not allow its economic diplomacy to be viewed as neocolonialism or 21st century resource colonization. It should increase the level of transparency in its decision making, particularly when these decisions impact the world and the region," said Sunjoy Joshi, director of the Observer Research Foundation.

Haru Chiba, a Japanese student from the School of International Cultural Exchange at Beijing International Studies University, told the Global Times that China has great confidence in itself, conveying an idea to the world that it could achieve anything it wants.

But Lee Dae-suk, a South Korean student from the same school, said China is not complicated at all. Li said that he is worried that China's economy will be influenced by its pollution, adding that China should pour more money in environmental protection.

Limited media

The survey has shown that 44.4 percent of the foreign respondents learn about China from "internationally recognized media, such as CNN and the BBC." Some 39.5 percent of the respondents learn about China through "domestic TV," and 27.5 percent through "locally held Chinese cultural and business activities."

In comparison, only 12.1 percent of the respondents say they learn about China from "Chinese media programs broadcast in their native countries," indicating the limited influence of Chinese media on the international stage.

"If most people learn about China from English-speaking news outlets, their image of China is naturally biased," said Chu. "The influence of a country is related to the influence of its language. The more people are learning Chinese, the better they objectively understand China."

Cao Jie, a UK-based reporter from Phoenix TV, told the Global Times that Chinese TV programs and newspapers have reached many countries in the world but the content often fails to attract local residents' attention.

"A lot of Chinese TV programs lack a unique perspective or understanding of foreign cultures, creating obstacles for foreigners to understand China," said Cao.

Ling Yuhuan and Zhang Yuyang contributed to this story

Posted in: Society

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