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Chinese Confidence Soars as Olympics Approach

Posted by: Dexter Roberts on July 23, 2008

Chinese confidence is soaring in the run-up to the Olympics, shows an interesting poll released yesterday. According to the Pew Research Center, 82% of Chinese believe the economic situation in China is good, up from about half, six years ago. That puts China in number one place when it comes to confidence among 24 countries surveyed. Given that the Chinese economy has seen years of double-digit growth and Chinese are earning more money every year that’s hardly surprising. Chinese also report high confidence in their government—86% of them believe that Beijing is steering China in the right direction. (By comparison, only 20% of Americans believe in their economy, with 23 expressing confidence in their government.)

Despite the optimism towards economic conditions at home, Chinese report that inflation is a major concern (96%), as is unemployment and worker conditions (68% and 56% respectively). Corruption also is on Chinese minds, as well as the importance of protecting the environment—80% say that is key, even if it slows overall economic growth.

When it comes to the Olympics, 93% believe the upcoming Games will help boost China’s reputation abroad, while 96% predict that the Olympics will be a success. 75% think China will win the most medals, with 15% saying that the U.S. will have the largest medal haul, and 3%, Russia.

Also interesting was the fact that even as China shows more confidence at home, it also is looking negatively at other countries. 69% of people reported having a bad opinion of Japan, with 38% calling that country an enemy. And while attitude towards China’s Asian neighbor may not surprise (Japan’s wartime role in China in the ‘30s and ‘40s having left a deep historical legacy of bad feelings), around one-third of Chinese also consider the U.S. an enemy (higher than the 24% who view India also as an opponent.) One slightly odd note: 77% of Chinese believe China is popular overseas, up from 68% in 2005. The reality in fact is much different, with only seven countries surveyed saying they view China positively.

An aside: At least in part, I think that misperception reflects the continuing controls over access to foreign media sources, by the Chinese government. Yes I know: many will say that through the Internet, Chinese have unfettered access to whatever news they want to get. That is in part true although certainly Beijing puts great effort into attempting to control what Chinese get to see online. But also, the net often is best for leading one to the news one wants to see—witness the surge of anti-Western media feeling fanned on the Chinese net earlier this year. I’m quite certain the vast majority of ‘hits’ by Chinese citizen’s surfing online went to sites like the one devoted to trashing CNN’s Tibet coverage, rather than to overseas sites maintained by the Dalai Lama’s government or human rights organizations, for example.

At the same time, despite growing numbers of mainland netizens, many Chinese still don’t have free access to the web. And the ability to have a dialogue online about a whole range of sensitive subjects is heavily circumscribed by the Chinese government. Restricting news coverage Beijing views as objectionable (like ill-will directed at China) in the main national media outlets like CCTV and the top papers too, no doubts limits knowledge of the outside world for many Chinese.

Reader Comments

To Dexter Roberts

July 23, 2008 8:17 AM

What is your point of this article?
Why is there "anti-western media feeling" among Chinese people? You know the answer but you are a dishonest person and a reporter with not integrity at all.
There have been a China bashing campaign going for a long time and you are part of the problem Mr. Dexter since you are China hater and basher.

Western Media distortion during the Lashas riot done by people such as yourself. We know you!


July 23, 2008 2:47 PM

Does this guy want every Chinese to know how mean, hysterical, and unfair the western media and those single-issue activist groups are, in whipping up anti-China sentiments in the West before the Olympics? Doing so is not likely to dent the high confidance level the Chinese toward their own future. But it will severely drain the Chinese goodwill toward the West.


July 23, 2008 2:53 PM

Mr. Roberts is just being jealous to see that China has progress so much. People like Mr. Roberts only wants to see the backward China.


July 23, 2008 8:33 PM

Foreigner perpection about China will only improve when Chinese understand and become a real democracy, and allowing people like Tibetans to choose their own culture, religion and way.


July 23, 2008 11:12 PM

If I remember correctly from various international surveys, far more Chinese have positive view on the US than Americans have positive view on China despite supposedly “continuing controls over access to foreign media sources” by the Chinese government. On the other hand, far more Americans view China as an ememy than Chinese view the US as enemy, thanks to incessant China bashing and demonization of China in the US media.


July 23, 2008 11:56 PM

US is the enemy of China, not the other way around. Does China station military postures around US?

Why China is so "bad"? Thanks to all your western media's relentless untiring effort.


July 24, 2008 1:23 AM


China is bad (from the US viewpoint) because China's very growth threaten US hegemony, in Asia, if not yet the world. So the best for the US is for China to remain poor and backward or to break up into little countries so the US can call all the shots forever.


July 24, 2008 2:07 AM

Jiba, If you ask who threatens who, then of course it is the US that threatens China rather than the other way round since, as you said, the US has military bases all around China but China has none anywhere overseas. But since the international media is controlled by the US, the reality is distorted and readers are brainwashed into thinking that it is China that threatens the US.

Chris Theo

July 25, 2008 2:38 PM

Mr. Roberts is reporting the statistics and then providing his own take and commentary, which is completely standard blog protocol folks.

All of the responses thus far have ignored the most interesting aspect of the entire post. According to this poll, 77% of Chinese citizens believe China is popular and viewed positively overseas, when this is not the case. Why is this? I assure you it can't ALL be attributed to international media bias.

Bob, Roger, Hanjaya, and Jiba, the US citizens I associate with tend to view China, the country and its citizens, positively. Sure, we may not all agree with the Chinese governments' actions sometimes, but Mr. Roberts points out that US citizens' confidence in our own administration is only 23%!

The four of you seem defensive and absolutely convinced the rest of the world is brainwashed, but perhaps we're simply critical of centralized governments and politics in general. If you compare the U.S. media's anti-Bush administration coverage with stories critical of the Chinese government, I think you would find that we are far more critical of our own government.

Not to mention there have been tons of pro-China stories, but positive sentiment does not attract much attention apparently.

In the future, I simply ask that you separate a country's government from it's people. And give Mr. Roberts his due for highlighting some intriguing statistics.


July 25, 2008 3:05 PM

"To Dexter Roberts," is either being paid by Beijing to post here or is a victim of Chinese public "education."

Roger, to reply to one of your posts, very many Chinese do indeed regard the US as an enemy. On the other hand, many Americans simply regard China as a "potential threat."

The difference in intensity should be noted.


July 25, 2008 3:57 PM

I love China, no matter what the prejudiced media wants me to feel. Press on, China! You've come a long way, and an even brighter future awaits you! Press on, press on...


July 27, 2008 8:31 PM

China does not have gun-culture,drug-doping culture,war- mongering culture which are criminal cultures.China does not rob other nations :lands,scientists,smart students,wealth,athletes,olympic&grand prix medals,coaches,public savings,oil & natural resources,stability & security for national development,national treasures,relics,leadership...just to name a few.China actually lost some of the above.If you consider the capital of a nation as a person's face,you will not see criminal scar in Beijing.

Emily RCI

July 28, 2008 11:36 AM

Radio Canada International present a unique, innovative web series 'A NEW FACE FOR BEIJING'.

The series is about a 25 year-old Chinese-Canadian, Jennifer Hsiung, who moved to China to work for CCTV international as their sports anchor 2 years ago. The series documents her integration into the Chinese community and the transformations of Beijing in the last few months.

The atmosphere is Beijing is electric, and the series captures the environment and mood of the people in the capital as the Opening Ceremony fast approaches.

The series is shot by Jennifer's sister Tiffany and together they offer a different lens through which to view Beijing from the point of view of CBC's and ABC's living in the city. This unique viewpoint has made the series a great success so far.

We invite you to look online and make your own opinion heard at


August 13, 2008 4:32 AM

Why always talking about Human Rights? Is there anything NEW that you can make as the arguement... I'm just so bored of this. Maybe we are not clear about what all happened in China and we are too much confident because we are overwelmed by "Good news". But actually, the negative news you guys heard are already filtered/controlled by your media. "The black hourse is just as black as other black hourse"...No blacker ones...

A passer-by

August 13, 2008 1:32 PM

The author's conclusion is a bit of flaw, as far as I am concerned: I have been out of mainland China for 14 years. What I am reading is CBC, CTV, CNN, Times, Business Weeks, Ottawa Citizen, blah blah. However, the more I read, the intense feeling I have - the westerners have bias to Chinese and Oriental Culture. Intrinsically, the westerners hold belief that western culture is superior to oriental one. They don't understand chinese history and culture, but want to offer their two-cents - what you chinse should think, what you chinese should do, etc. That is they want chinese go their way. Under the trend of globalization and diversification, this kind of narrow mind should definitely backlash. Truthfully, I witnessed the June 4 event, and I managed to leave my motherland to seek for my dreamed paradise - wealthy, free, democractic, etc. I succeeded in pursuit of my postgraduate study, and enjoyed decades of decent life abroad. In the past decade, I returned to my hometown many many times to visit my old parents. My experience is that my motherland is developing rapidly, not only in economic growth, but also in many soft spots, for example, people is enjoying freedom and democracy. Many would disagree with my view. Indeed, I admit that the chinse political system is far from perfect, but compared to the decades I saw before I left, it is much better! Simply put, when an empty bottle is now holding half-bottle water, some guys cry that it it half empty; however, I would view it as progress - if our chinese continue our efforts, we will make the bottle full of water. As our country is evolving econonically, people will demand more in reform of political system. Let's see, in another decade, we will have a better china.

I am confident of it, and I am proud of still being a chinese after leaving our land for more than decade.

Chinese Pregnancy Calendar

October 16, 2009 4:34 AM

Mr. Roberts is just being jealous to see that China has progress so much. People like Mr. Roberts only wants to see the backward China.
My wife is pregnant now, and I've looking for this for a long time in Chinese Pregnancy Calendar
Thanks for sharing

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