Over 75 Percent of Chinese Believe Way of Life Must be Protected Against ‘Outside Influences’

Over 75 Percent of Chinese Believe Way of Life Must be Protected Against ‘Outside Influences’
Photo Credit: AP/達志影像
What you need to know

As China sees a greater role for itself on the global stage, it is also becoming more apprehensive about potential designs against its emergence as a major power.

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A recent opinion poll by the Pew Research Center shows that as a growing number of Chinese believe that China plays a more important role on the world stage, more than three quarters also believe that their country’s way of life must be protected against “foreign influences.”

The Pew Research Center’s Spring 2016 Global Attitudes Survey, released on Oct. 5, shows that 75 percent of Chinese respondents feel that China plays a more important role in world affairs than it did 10 years ago, and only 10 percent felt that its influence globally has diminished during that period.

More than three quarters of respondents (77 percent) said the Chinese way of life must be protected against foreign influences, up 13 percentage points from 2002. Such views seemed to reflect the official Chinese Communist Party line under President Xi Jinping (習近平), which has repeatedly warned against foreign attempts to interfere in China's domestic affairs and taken measures to censor and control foreign influence across Chinese society, from the NGO sector to the media.

A total of 52 percent said they believe the U.S. is trying to prevent China from becoming an equal power, and only 29 percent thought the U.S. was willing to accept China’s rise. Respondents said the U.S. was the top international threat facing the country, with 45 percent (up from 39 percent in 2013) identifying it as a major threat in a list of seven potential threats specified in the survey. (Interestingly, Japanese were even more apprehensive about the international challenge posed by the U.S., at 52 percent.) The second-highest international threat to the Chinese was global economic instability (35 percent), followed by climate change (34 percent) and Islamic militant organizations, such as ISIS (15 percent).

Meanwhile, 59 percent of respondents said they were concerned that territorial conflicts between China and neighboring countries could spark military conflict. China is embroiled in a number of territorial conflicts in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, its border with India, and the Taiwan Strait.

Six out of 10 Chinese respondents believed China’s involvement in the global economy was a good thing, against 23 percent who said this was bad for China. More than six out of 10 (62 percent) of Chinese said (62 percent) China should increase its foreign aid to developing nations.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White