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China superpower? Chinese say no

Despite China's economic might and political and diplomatic leverage, the Chinese public seem to be more cautious in evaluating the country's relative international strength, with just 12 % of the people in a latest poll deemed China as a world superpower.

world Updated: Jan 01, 2011 13:02 IST

Despite China's economic might and political and diplomatic leverage, the Chinese public seem to be more cautious in evaluating the country's relative international strength, with just 12 % of the people in a latest poll deemed China as a world superpower.

The poll, conducted by the Global Poll Centre of the Global Times newspaper, is based on telephonic interviews of a random sampling of 1,488 people in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Chongqing cities.

In all, 57 percent of the respondents voted China as the most promising emerging nation among the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), a 10 % drop from last year's result. The US was the most favoured country to travel in.

Ninteen percent of the participants selected the US as the foreign country they would most like to visit, followed by France, with 21 %.

More than half of the participants in the poll said China's international status was boosted in 2010 by the Shanghai World Expo, while over 60 % denounced corrupt officials for tarnishing the country's global image.

The poll also reflects the belief that the quality of "made-in-China" products is gradually getting better, with 80 % of those polled expressed hope that improvements were being made.

This positive attitude also extends to China's external relations. 84 % of the respondents were optimistic about China's improved relations with other major global players in the future.

"The result shows that Chinese people are becoming more objective when considering these issues," said Wu Xinbo, deputy director of the Centre for American Studies at Fudan University.

The diplomatic rows China encountered this year have fueled public awareness about the difficult factors China would face as it continues to grow, he added.

Over a third of the respondents saw ties between China and Europe improve during the past year, with fewer negative factors such as trade friction, human rights and religious issues compared with the previous years.

Ties with South Korea, which have drawn more attention in the survey, were seen stabilized, with 46 % of the respondents saying the tensions on the Korean Peninsula will be eased in the new year due to China's diplomatic role.

Looking at relations with Japan, over half of the participants said the ties were unlikely to deteriorate in 2011.

Over 80 % of the participants also expressed concerns about Western intentions to contain China's development, with about 40 % calling for countermeasures to be taken against threats to China.

Among the issues of greatest concern, US intentions to strategically contain China placed ahead of trade disputes as the most important bilateral issue in 2010.

Ties with Washington were deemed as the most significant bilateral relationship for China for the fifth consecutive year.

Jin Canrong, vice director of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that the survey findings reflect the dynamics of 2010 with the US strengthening its presence in Asia.

"Some Chinese people remain suspicious of the outside world, especially the Western countries. They still don't trust these countries," he said.