Thank you very much to everyone who responded to the survey I put up about China in 2016. It was very interesting to see how people said they view China.
The biggest takeaways:
- The majority of respondents have never set foot in China.
- More respondents have a negative view of China than a positive one.
- Stereotypes about China are persistent and often outdated.
Now let’s get into the survey’s meat itself. If you want to take the survey yourself, please click here.
Q1 Result: 57% people residing in the USA.
The other countries in the 32% at the bottom were mostly Canadians, with several Australians and many others.
Q2 Result: 56% of respondents consider their nationality US.
Only a couple of people identified themselves as Chinese.
Q3 Result: Hardly anyone reads hard-copy magazines anymore.
Bizzarely, most of the responses for ‘Other’ were for Reddit. Guys…that’s an internet news site. Except this one:
Russ, is that you? 🙂
Q4 Result: Slightly more than 40% of respondents have a mostly negative or wholly negative view of China.
One person did say it was too complicated to categorize in this fashion.
Q5 Result: ‘Authoritarian,’ ‘Corrupt,’ and ‘Communist’ are the top adjectives for the government of China.
This question could have been formulated better, but I wanted to see what people used to describe the government of China broadly speaking. Additional write-in responses included ‘capitalist,’ ‘unknown,’ ‘fascist in some aspects,’ and ‘i haven’t thought of it before.’
Maybe I should have included a definition of these words, or asked people to define them in their own words.
Q6 Result: Nearly 80% of respondents have never visited China.
This is the most revealing question in the whole survey. The vast majority of the respondents have never seen China with their own eyes, so their views must only be formed through the information they get from the news and their interactions with people they know who are Chinese.
A little over a year ago, I would have been in this category, too. My own views on China have changed a lot since I moved there last year. The post is coming, I promise! I’m still digesting what I think and forming it.
Q7 Result: 65% of respondents are not nervous about China’s place in the world.
Interesting! I wouldn’t have expected this, based on the conversations I’ve been having since I got back. The comments on this question are revealing:
I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to North Korea since I’ve been back in the States.
Q8 Result: I’ll get out of the way and let people speak for themselves. The question was ‘Describe your mental picture of China, in two sentences or less.’
Highlights include this gem:
The most commonly mentioned phrase in these responses was ‘air pollution’ or some variation thereof, following by mentions of weak legal institutions and income inequality.
Q9 Result: Most people know at least one person from China.
Q10 Result: Everyone knows about Mao Zedong, few people know the name of the First Emperor.
Sorted from most responses to least.
It seems as though people hear about China a lot, even though most in this survey have never been there.
This survey falls in line with the general ideas about China in media, and the narratives that drive them. Some of the ideas people have about China are really outdated, but my guess is that this is due to the poignancy of the images from the Cultural Revolution and the heavy focus both within and outside China on the current air pollution issues.
I was surprised that more people did not indicate they are nervous about China’s role in the world, given that they are mostly from the USA and most people I’ve spoken to since being back here appear to be hyper-nervous about it. Equally surprising is that the Rape of Nanking ranks above the Cultural Revolution in renown.
It is unsurprising that those surveyed have a mostly negative view of China.
How do you feel about China in 2016? Do you have opinions about travel to countries like China or North Korea?