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The Diplomat: What do Chinese people think of developed countries? 2021 edition


March 13, 2021 

By Adam Y. Liu, Xiaojun Li, and Songying Fang

Songying Fang is a member of the Bush China Foundation Board of Advisors. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations.

In November 2020, immediately before the U.S. presidential election, we conducted a public opinion survey in China to explore Chinese citizens’ views on 14 developed countries, including the United States. The survey was inspired by and complements a Pew Research survey that looked at public opinions about China in these 14 countries. Importantly, we found that the Chinese and Americans disliked each other to a similar extent, with 77 percent of Chinese respondents expressing very or somewhat unfavorable views of the United States. We proposed that much of the Chinese antipathy toward the U.S. stemmed from an unprecedented deterioration in the bilateral relationship during the Trump presidency.

Has Chinese public opinion changed with the arrival of a new U.S. president?

We conducted a second survey of 1,018 adults between January 25 and February 2, 2021, after Joe Biden was sworn into office, to investigate whether the Chinese public’s views toward the 14 countries, particular the United States, have changed since Trump left office. We asked the same question as in our pre-election survey: “What’s your view of the following countries?”

The results of the second survey are largely consistent with the first one. Specifically, the United States still tops the list for negative views held by the Chinese public, with 72 percent of respondents holding very or somewhat unfavorable views of the country, followed by close allies of the U.S.: Japan (58 percent), Australia (54 percent), Canada (46 percent), and the United Kingdom (45 percent). As in the first survey, continental European countries fared better, with Chinese negative views at or below 30 percent.

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Find an earlier result of this survey, also published in The Diplomat, here.