The World in Chinese Citizens’ Eyes in 2003: Part 1

Date Released

July 21, 2003

Survey

A joint production of Horizon and Horizonkey, published by Horizonkey

Impression of countries: Chinese citizens identify most with China

In 1584, when Italian Matteo Ricci first drew a world map using western methods in Zhaoqing, Guangdong and was unexpectedly invited by Emperor Wanli into the imperial court, Chinese people’s image of the world changed fundamentally.  The classical view of China as “All under Heaven” and today’s world began to merge, moving from China’s historical view of itself as nine states, surrounded by barbarians, to the new world of “four directions.” The rapid development of modern technology allows people to continually break through their own original field of vision and experiences within an ever shorter amount of time. The combined effects of politics, economics, culture, and ideology are changing Chinese peoples’ image of the world.

The Horizon Group and HorizonKey recently carried out a survey asking the same questions in 1995 and 2003 in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.  The survey revealed that over these eight years, Chinese people’s approval of China has risen immensely, and of all the countries of the world, the Chinese people are most accepting of China. 50.6% of urban residents expressed that China is their favorite country, and on a list polling respondents’ depth of impression of each country, 37.4% of urban citizens’ impression of China is the strongest, bringing China from third in the original poll to first. These conclusions originate from Horizon’s poll on June 28, using the SuperCATI fast telephone polling method which randomly interviewed 444 urban residents, ages 18 to 60 years old.  Results were weighted according to the population scale of the three cities, and with a degree of confidence of 95%, this polls sampling error is 4.7%.

Chinese people identify most with China.

Which country or region in the world leaves you with the deepest impression? Interviewees’ responses to this question allow us to garner a deeper understanding of the huge changes in China. Of the 24 countries mentioned by interviewees, China (37.4%) topped the list, and the rate of responses for China increased by 24.3% over the 1995 results, surpassing both the United States (ranked second at 26.5%) and France (ranked third at 5.1%) in the latest poll. Comparative analysis reveals that, in minds of these three cities’ citizens, the depth of impression of China increased across the board. In the 1995 polling results, residents of Beijing and Shanghai’s impressions of China (5.1% and 8.8%, respectively) were well below those of the United States and Japan, placing third.  Although residents of Guangzhou held China in high regard (ranked first at 33.3%), the United States, ranked second at 29.6%  was chosen almost as much as China. The 2003 polling data reveals that, in addition to the residents of Guangzhou (44.2%), who still had the deepest impression of China, Beijing residents’ impressions of China (45.3%) jumped to first in the rankings, surpassing the United States (20%) by a wide margin. Shanghai residents still had the deepest impression of the United States (31.3%), but this only exceeded China by 4.1%. When asked which country was their favorite, 53.6% of citizens chose China as their favorite country, followed by France (6.3%), the United States (6.1%), Canada (5.1%), and Australia (4.6%).

Figure: Top ten countries or regions that leave the most lasting impressions on Chinese citizens in 1995 and 2003

Source: The 1995 data comes from a Horizon Group multistage random sampling survey conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,050 interviewees over the age of 14 in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Harbin. The 2003 data is from a collaboration between the HorizonKey data network and Horizon Group, which randomly polled 444 interviewees between the ages of 18 and 60 by phone in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

 

Table: A comparison of the top four countries that leave a deep impression on Chinese citizens in 1995 and 2003

Source: The 1995 data comes from a Horizon Group multistage random sampling survey conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,050 interviewees over the age of 14 in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Harbin. The 2003 data is from a collaboration between the HorizonKey data network and Horizon Group, which randomly polled 444 interviewees between the ages of 18 and 60 by phone in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

 

With growth in China’s national strength, citizens’ self-confidence has increased too.

Rapid economic development has allowed China to gain an increasing number of opportunities to express its opinions to the world, while citizens have concurrently adopted more open attitudes and ways of perceiving the world. Compared to ten years ago, the top ten reasons that create citizens’ lasting impressions of any given country haven’t changed much, but they have undergone obvious changes with regard to China. Comparative analysis demonstrates that in 1995, more than 80% of respondents selected “national pride, patriotism/best known” as the reason for their impressions of China.  Similarly, in 2003 the top two reasons were “one’s own country of residence” and “national pride and patriotism;” 1995’s second place “societal problems/violence” reason did not appear within the top ten reasons in the most recent survey results. Moreover, two of top five reasons in the latest poll were not in the top five of the original poll: “Peoples’ high level of education, society’s rapid improvement” and “stable society, good welfare,” which ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the 2003 poll. Researchers discovered that in the latest poll results, the top five results were all positive characteristics. It can certainly be said that the economy’s rapid growth and the relatively stable, safe domestic environment as compared to the unstable international climate fostered a sense of identity with China. With the peaceful reunification of Hong Kong and Macao with the mainland, China’s successful applications to host the Olympics and the World Exposition, and the nation’s successful entry into the World Trade Organization, China’s increase in national strength has resulted in an increase in citizens’ faith in China.

Source: The 1995 data comes from a Horizon Group multistage random sampling survey conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,050 interviewees over the age of 14 in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Harbin. The 2003 data is from a collaboration between the HorizonKey data network and Horizon Group, which randomly polled 444 interviewees between the ages of 18 and 60 by phone in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

 

Classical qualities still exist, a future filled with hope

Knowledge of a nation’s culture and history causes people to ascribe a multitude of characteristics to that nation.  A fleeting impression taken from everyday life can also become clearly and permanently etched into the deepest regions of one’s memory. We asked respondents, “When this phrase is mentioned, which country or region do you associate it with?” The 2003 poll reveals that among the eight phrases provided, respondents linked four with their impressions of China. China’s rich and long-standing traditional food culture resulted in residents still retaining their identity with good food.  When presented with the phrase “delicious food,” respondents most associated China with this phrase; when associating the phrases “ancient” and “mysterious” with a country, in both cases China ranked behind Egypt, in second place, although in the latest poll, China ranks behind Egypt in the “mysterious” category by 24.7%. When presented with the word “powerful,” respondents were unanimous, placing only the United States (82.6%) in front of China (43.1%). China did not rank within the top four in the “unstable,” “prosperous,” “romantic,” or “clean” categories.

Note: In the 1995 data, respondents chose one answer from a list of options. In the 2003 data, respondents chose at most three answers from a list of options.
Source: The 1995 data comes from a Horizon Group multistage random sampling survey conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,050 interviewees over the age of 14 in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Harbin. The 2003 data is from a collaboration between the HorizonKey data network and Horizon Group, which randomly polled 444 interviewees between the ages of 18 and 60 by phone in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

 

China’s men and women are still most loved

“Which country’s men and women do you most appreciate?” People have an unabashed attraction to members of the opposite sex with the same cultural background. Identical to the 1995 polling results, on a list of which nation or region has the most attractive men and women, China sits atop the polls, leading other nations by a large margin. Compared to the 1995 results, respondents’ level of admiration toward Chinese women in 2003 (33%) increased by 3.8%. This percentage was also 5% higher than the level of admiration of Chinese men.  In addition, the respondents’ sex, age, or cultural background did not significantly affect their answers. Interestingly, respondents admired Asian women more than Western women, while Asian men are apparently gradually becoming increasingly admired. Looking at the ten countries on the list, the proportion of women who admire men in Asian countries as compared to Western ones in 1995 was 2.5:1, while in 2003 it was 2.4:1. When polling about men, the proportion increased to 1.4:1 in 2003, from 1.1:1 in 1995.

Chart: List of countries and regions with the most attractive men and women in 1995 and 2003

Source: The 1995 data comes from a Horizon Group multistage random sampling survey conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,050 interviewees over the age of 14 in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Harbin. The 2003 data is from a collaboration between the HorizonKey data network and Horizon Group, which randomly polled 444 interviewees between the ages of 18 and 60 by phone in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

Our researchers believe that a series of international accomplishments and twenty years of continuous rapid economic growth have greatly raised Chinese citizens’ national pride and faith. In their eyes, China’s history and traditional culture are especially outstanding, and on the whole China is emerging as a safe, stable, and quickly developing country full of hope. If eight years ago one was to say citizens’ attraction to China was based on inherited culture, then eight years later China’s image in their minds is based on China’s gains in national strength, safety, culture, and other areas, as well as China’s ever greater power.

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The Mansfield Foundation is responsible for the translation of this Asahi Shimbun poll, subject to the Mansfield Foundation terms of use (see below).

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