Weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Chinese had been unapologetically constructive about Russia and extremely damaging concerning the United States, in keeping with a survey of public opinion carried out on-line in mainland China with a analysis pattern of three,039 respondents in March 2022. The not too long ago revealed report “Chinese views of the world at the time of the Russia-Ukraine war” sums up among the predominant findings of the survey and gives a glimpse of the general public sentiments in China with regards to views of the world – and China’s place in it – on the time of the peak of Chinese public consideration to Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The survey was carried out by a world group of researchers coordinated by Palacky University Olomouc, Czechia, as a part of its analysis venture “Sinophone Borderlands – Interaction at the Edges,” funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Among the 25 international locations respondents had been requested about (Figure 1), Russia was probably the most positively perceived nation with 80 % of respondents saying they seen Russia in a constructive mild whereas solely 12 % held damaging views. The United States, then again, was probably the most negatively seen nation in China with barely greater than 60 % of respondents perceiving it negatively and 31 % holding constructive attitudes.
The different very positively perceived international locations amongst Chinese respondents had been Pakistan (73 %), Singapore (66 %), North Korea (62 %), and Germany (61 %). In flip, different very negatively perceived international locations included India (56 %), Japan (54 %), Vietnam (48 %), South Korea (47 %), and Ukraine (46 %).
To get a extra nuanced image of the perceptions of the United States and Russia, we requested two open-ended questions wherein the respondents supplied their first associations with the respective nation, and likewise a purpose for why their picture of the U.S. or Russia obtained higher or worse.
In phrases of the U.S. (see Figure 2), the most typical affiliation was “hegemon,” whereas different frequent expressions had been “advanced,” “developed,” and “powerful,” but additionally “bossy,” “war,” “bandit,” and “sowing discord.”
In the Russian case, the most typical affiliation was “warrior nation,” adopted by phrases similar to “Putin,” “vodka,” “vast,” “bears,” “powerful,” “war with Ukraine,” and “Sino-Russian friendship.”
The image we’re getting is that each the United States and Russia are seen as highly effective, however American energy is seen principally in damaging phrases, whereas Russia’s is nearly solely constructive. It could also be noteworthy, nonetheless, that perceptions of Russia among the many Chinese appear to be considerably stereotypical and linked to the present chief, and could be missing deeper social roots. Hence, these perceptions could also be simply open to vary.
When requested about how positively or negatively the respondents assess the international coverage of main powers (Figure 4), solely Russia (moreover China) was seen positively, whereas the U.S. topped the damaging rating, forward of India, Japan, and the European Union.
Why did the Chinese respondents maintain such views in March 2022? It is secure to say they weren’t disturbed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine – arguably a serious breach of China’s lengthy promoted precept of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of different international locations. Quite the other: The Chinese nonetheless noticed Russia basically, and Russian international coverage particularly, in extremely constructive phrases, whereas additionally contemplating it to be a robust nation.
It can be attention-grabbing to repeat the examine to see whether or not rising proof of Russia’s failure to attain its targets in Ukraine would change Chinese folks’s perceptions of Russia in some regards.
Overall, the Chinese respondents appeared to be influenced to a big diploma by the standard of bilateral relations with a given nation – or to be extra exact, how this bilateral relationship is introduced by Chinese media. Besides Russia and the United States, that is notably evidenced within the case of European international locations (similar to Germany or France), that are perceived comparatively positively, whereas the international coverage of the EU can also be seen as considerably constructive (particularly when in comparison with the international coverage of the United States). The Chinese additionally count on that the folks in these international locations have comparatively constructive views of China. In actuality, the Germans and French are fairly damaging about China.
Hence, Chinese folks’s photos could be a results of Chinese official narratives, which frequently give attention to blaming the U.S. and current Europe as a sufferer of American affect with out its personal company.
Another main discovering of the survey is Chinese folks’s confidence in China. When requested about how militarily and economically highly effective they understand related main powers, China was seen as probably the most highly effective one, whereas China’s tradition was additionally perceived as probably the most enticing and Chinese universities had been probably the most advisable ones.
We additionally requested how keen the respondents can be to get a COVID-19 vaccine produced by numerous international locations. Again, Chinese vaccines had been way more trusted than some other. This appears to be a results of two-plus years of propaganda portray the Western response to the pandemic in damaging colours, presenting Western vaccines as ineffective, and even suggesting theories concerning the virus originating as a U.S. bioweapon. This could also be an issue now, nonetheless, as Chinese vaccines don’t appear to be working as effectively towards the newer variants of COVID-19 as some Western ones.
Overall, it may be noticed that a couple of weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Chinese had been very constructive about Russia, very damaging concerning the United States, and really assured about China. These findings must be considered a snapshot of public attitudes at a sure time when the Chinese public paid excessive consideration to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and earlier than the COVID-19 disaster in China escalated on the finish of March. It can be certainly attention-grabbing to see how these views may need modified a couple of weeks or months later.