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Highlights from China’s 2016-2017 national image global survey

(People's Daily Online)    17:15, January 05, 2018

China’s national global image is being steadily enhanced, according to a global survey report released Friday on dwcb1994, the official WeChat account of the Center for International Communication.

The survey interviewed citizens of 22 countries, covering Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Oceania, and Africa, with 500 respondents from each country. Samples were local residents aged 18 to 65 to ensure the representation of the countries involved, and the ratio of men to women was 50:50.

The main findings of the survey include several parts about China’s enhanced overall image, well recognized national and global governance, economic influence, and culture and sci-tech image. Generally, developing countries and young people overseas are more positive about China than developed countries and older groups.

Part 1: China’s overall image and influence

China’s image is steadily improving internationally, scoring 6.22 out of 10 points on average.

China ranks second after the United States in terms of influence in global affairs among all countries. The result: US, China, and Russia rank top three, was as same as the 2014-2015 survey.

Part 2: Image of China and its citizens

A big oriental country with a rich history and full of charm remains the prominent image of China. About 57% overseas respondents deemed China to be such a country.

Diligence is the most recognized character of the Chinese people, same as the previous findings. The global respondents have a positive impression of the Chinese people as a whole, but those in developing countries have even better impressions.

In the eyes of most overseas respondents, the Chinese people are hardworking, collectivistic, hospitable, honest, and trustworthy. Some people from developed countries tend to think that the Chinese are traditional and close-minded, and lack innovation.

Regarding China’s future development, overseas respondents are generally positive, with both developed and developing countries believing that China’s global status and influence will continue to grow.

As high as 33% of the respondents expect China will become the largest economy in the world, rising from 17% in 2013, 20% in 2014, and 24% in 2015. But 36% think that China still faces various challenges such as a widening rich-poor gap and environmental pollution.

Part 3: China’s political and diplomatic image

Comprehensively strengthening Party self-discipline is the first impression of China’s ruling party. Respondents thought China’s ruling party has strong ability of mobilization and cohesion.

Developing countries are more positive about China’s development path and model, which are generally believed to be the reason for China’s fast development. Many linked the Chinese path and model to the dominant position of the state-owned economy.

The cooperation initiatives and mechanisms proposed by China are widely recognized overseas. A total of 18% of the overseas respondents heard of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2016 and 2017, seeing an increase from 6% in 2014. Those in developing countries, especially countries along the route, as well as young people, welcome the initiative more. More than 6/10 recognized China’s positive role in BRICS cooperation and expect China to play a bigger role in the future.

Part 4: China’s economic image

China’s economic influence is widely recognized by the global community, ranking second in the world, next to that of the US.

Overall, overseas respondents think that China’s economic development promotes global economic development, and that China is willing to cooperate with other countries in economy and trade and share the results of its development with them. Developing countries’ comments on China’s economic influence are more positive than those of developed countries.

China is generally believed to be becoming the biggest trade partner of more and more countries. Fewer respondents fear that Chinese enterprises will influence the development of local firms and brands.

Chinese brands gained more popularity overseas. Lenovo, Huawei, Alibaba, Air China, and Bank of China are the five most famous Chinese brands overseas, but quality problems remain a factor hindering overseas development of Chinese brands, with over 60% of the respondents complaining about this.

Part 5: China’s culture, science and technology image

Speaking of the elements that best represent Chinese culture, 52% of overseas respondents chose cuisine, 47% ticked traditional Chinese medicine, and 44% marked off martial arts.

Overseas and Chinese respondents hold different views in this regard. The former’s recognition of Confucius and Confucianism, classics, traditional opera, comedy routines, and acrobatics was much lower than that of the latter, while their recognition of Chinese products and scientific inventions was higher.

Part 6: Channels for overseas people to know about China

On average, 27% of the overseas respondents said they have some or a lot knowledge about China, which is an increase. Many of them are young people.

Traditional and new media and Chinese products are the main channels for overseas people to learn about China, accounting for 61%, 43%, and 41%, respectively. An increase of 6% of the respondents learned about China through its products.

China’s culture and science and technology are what overseas people want to learn the most about through Chinese media.

Part 7: Interest in visiting China

More overseas people (nearly 1/3) said they plan to visit China in the next three years. Beyond the top three destinations: Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, other Chinese cities gained popularity among overseas people.

This has been the fifth research report on China’s national image since 2011, jointly conducted by the Center for International Communication Studies under the China Foreign Languages Publishing Administration, and Millward Brown. The survey aims to seek the feedback of foreign nationals regarding China’s national image and provide targeted recommendations for boosting China’s international communication activities.

(Compiled by Fang Tian) 

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