Perception vs. Reality?

I was reading an opinion column in the Washington Post that contained information I thought might be of interest to the group. It concerned a BBC World View poll showing how countries view each other, either positively or negatively and the percentages of each. It was interesting to see not only how countries viewed each other, but also how the view a country has of itself can be very different than the actual reality. Per the Post column, “A whopping 92 percent of Chinese surveyed believe that China has a mainly positive influence on the world; whereas a mere 39 percent of people polled in 20 other major countries agree. This was the largest perception gap among the countries’ polled.”

In last year’s BBC Poll across the same countries, people leaned toward saying China and Russia were having positive influences in the world. But views of China are now divided, with positive ratings having slipped six points to 39 per cent, while 40 per cent are now negative. Negative views of Russia have jumped eight points so that now, substantially more have a negative (42%) than a positive view (30%) of Russia’s influence.

Views of the US showed improvements in Canada, Egypt, Ghana, India, Italy and Japan. But far more countries have predominantly negative views of America (12), than predominantly positive views (6). Most Europeans show little change and views of the US in Russia and China have grown more negative. On average, positive views have risen from 35 per cent to 40 per cent, but they are still outweighed by negative views (43%, down from 47%).

According to the poll, some 60 percent of Americans surveyed thought the United States exerts a positive influence on the world; whereas 43 percent of people polled in the same 20 other major countries think it’s mostly negative.

Why are there such discrepancies between a country’s perception of itself and how the rest of the world looks at it? And why in particular is China’s perception gap so great?

One answer might be found with a well-respected and popular columnist for Southern Weekend named Yan Lieshan (鄢烈山) who feels a reason for the perception gap has to do with external propaganda. He wrote:

Let’s start with a news story during the annual full session of the National People’s Congress. When asked about the behavior of Chinese tourists on overseas trips, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei said he did not agree that the tourists had “backward habits” that “disgraced” the country. “Yes, it’s always Chinese who gather in big crowds and talk loud in airports and restaurants, but it’s just a habit. We Chinese are not used to the foreigners’ murmuring and whispering at a close distance either,” said Wu. I totally disagree with Vice Minister Wu.

First of all, our ancient sages have taught us to “ask about prohibited things and abide by local customs upon arriving in a new place.” Even though you habitually like to talk loud, you should behave yourself and respect other people’s customs when you are on their turf. It is undoubtedly a sign of frivolity and incivility to be presumptuous and to ignore the presence of others. Secondly, to yell and scream in public is a bad habit that disrespects others and has to be discarded. Once upon a time, China was filled with “supreme directives,” notices and loudspeakers blaring revolutionary songs. It was a “red era” when human rights were neglected. Nowadays the army barracks no longer use bugle calls at sunrise and cars in many cities are prohibited from honking so as not to disturb residents. This marks progress in ideas and old customs have evolved to adapt to new realities. The next step should be removing the annoying TV ads on buses and subway trains. People should be given multiple choices, for example to read or to nap, which they enjoy on planes. Such boisterous activities in restaurants and bars as finger-guessing and other drinking games must be banned. Partygoers can just talk in low voices. When I was visiting a newspaper in Seoul, South Korea, the editorial room with more than 100 people inside was as quiet as a library. People used earphones and microphones when they received phone calls. I feel that was really a civilized atmosphere of mutual respect.

Let’s turn to the Confucius Institutes we opened overseas. We no longer export revolution and have started “exporting culture” instead. Rather than seeing it as “great ” aimed at demonstrating China’s “,” I think this offers a platform and creates conditions to enhance exchanges between China and the outside world. The fact that the role of French has been supplanted by English indicates that the world is very realistic. When more and more people want to do business with China, the number of foreign students of the Chinese language jumps naturally. Culture is just the hair attached on the fur. Just like any Chinese visiting abroad, the Confucius Institutes as China’s ambassador of friendship have to follow local customs. They can’t demand foreign students be as obedient as Chinese (like Yan Hui, whom Confucius praised for being as obedient as a fool). Foreign students are used to raising questions and engaging in debates with the teachers, not to the cramming teaching style. If you teach them the Chinese saying “Do to others as you would have done to you,” they may challenge you with the melamine-contaminated milk powder scandal. If you mention Confucius’ teachings on credibility, they may wonder why after winning the auction Cai Mingchao refused to pay for the two bronze heads looted by Western invaders from the Summer Palace. They may ask you why so many Chinese would cheer such a contract-breaching act on the Internet. You can tell them that in the past two millennia the Chinese people have actually been Confucian on the surface but legalist underneath. We advocate the rule of morality but carry out the rule of hegemony. Is that ok? We have to first deliberate over such questions and come up with answers.

Last, let’s talk about the 45 billion yuan to be invested on the “great external propaganda” drive (details can be found in the cover story of a recent issue of Phoenix Weekly). We can leave aside the question of whether or not the huge spending has been approved by parliament or after serious study. I believe China indeed needs to improve and strengthen public relations efforts on the international stage to reverse the previous passive practices. But if “” does not follow local customs and respect other people’s comfortable ways of receiving information, it is very difficult for it to achieve its goals. Because your audience abroad has many choices, you can’t run a monopoly like you do in CCTV’s case within China. Of course you can distribute free newspapers to people, but what if they ignore the handouts like I do advertising flyers on the street? Chinese American media worker and commentator Ding Guo has a very good point: Westerners mistrust even their own media. It’s a lot harder for them to accept the Chinese government’s “”! Veteran diplomat Wu Jianmin also rightly said that European media likes to criticize any institutions with power, or any power holders. If you want European viewers to abandon CNN and watch the TV channel run by Xinhua News Agency, the first thing you need to do is to establish credibility and win trust. In my opinion, if foreigners believe that foreign and Chinese reporters are not free to report the truth in China, our new “great ” drive will not fare any better than the overseas edition of the People’s Daily and the English-language China Daily. So the priority is to perfect ourselves from within. Comrade Hu Jintao was well-advised to urge the observance of the “way mass communication works.”

What do you think of Mr. Yan’s ideas? If you don’t agree with him, then what other causes can  you identify that would warrant such a discrepancy between perception and reality?

40 thoughts on “Perception vs. Reality?

  1. First C&P my comment in Peking Duck:

    1. The sampled countries are way too skewed. There are some 400 million mostly Muslims in between India and Turkey, plus Bangladesh (roughly the same population in North America), yet no country was sampled. The African continent has some 900 million people, compared to some 700 million in Europe including Russia, yet African nations are way under-represented. There are some 300 million people in South America, yet only Chile, a relatively small country was sampled. In a nutshell, the sampling strongly favored the countries normally called “the West”.

    2. It seems that the sampling result is not weighed by population.

    Given the seeming deterioration of China’s standing among some old European countries in 2008 — to be fair it’s been a two-way street, and how the report effectively over-sampled those countries by a factor of at least 10, it’s no surprise of the result.

  2. Overall, perception of China tends to be far better in developing countries than in developed countries. Personally rarely found Pomfret’s opinions intelligently sound. The question presented to the Chinese is if they view China has a mainly positive influence in the world, not if they think others have a positive impression on China.

    An analogy would be on any given day you survey TV viewers which teams will win the games, on average each team should have 50% of chance; but if you ask the players what the chances are for their teams to win, very likely on average the result will be FAR higher than 50%. Heck for what is worth, I will follow the teams with strong self-belief players, and invest in businesses/nations with self-belief people.

  3. @ JXie: I agree with you that Pomfret’s opinions aren’t usually something I share, but I thought the general topic was worth talking about amongst ourselves. I look at surveys such as these not in absolute terms (for the reasons you mentioned) but in relative terms. Taking it in that way, the perception of China has lowered among certain countries and frankly I find this surprising. I thought the Olympics went well and the situation in Tibet and Taiwan has been relatively peaceful this year. The biggest negative I’ve seen with China is the lack of quality control in the products she exports. Do you think this might have caused the lower numbers?

  4. On a side note, I think it’s good to see that at least a solid minority of Americans can muster some healthy skepticism about their role in the world. It’s been a pretty disastrous 7 years!

    As far as Yan Lieshan’s (鄢烈山) remarks go, I’d say he seems to be more or less on target. I’d only emphasize that Chinese media is NOT free to report the truth in China. Sure, things are much better than 10 years ago, and way better than 20 years ago, but the base problem is the same: the media is officially and self-censored in order to protect China’s image and the CCP leadership’s image.

    Yan also hits another nail right on the head: Westerners don’t even trust their own media, of any stripe, to be fair or balanced (infotainment, anyone?). This is more true for the sort of state-sponsored and controlled media in China, Iran, Russia, etc (I feel BBC and the US’s PBS are a little different in this regard, due to the differences in their relationship with the government, but I suppose it’s a debatable point).

    Take for example the ‘media craze’ on Obama; there was tons of discussion within the media on the fairness of their own reporting, and on if they were going too easy on him, etc. That doesn’t mean their reporting actually *was* balanced, but would you see a CCTV piece asking, “Are we being too easy on Hu Jintao? Should we hold him responsible for [policy X]? Was this the right policy? Is he really just a benevolent statesman?”

    And today there is serious, though still muted, media discussion in the US on whether Bush, Chaney or other administration officials should go to jail for war crimes (torture). And while the CCP is clearly complacent in torture at local facilities, Xinhua would never raise the prospect that Hu is guilty of serious crimes that should land him in jail.

    Chinese state-run media, and really any media, will never carry credibility in open societies unless the media make themselves transparent, dig real dirt and host real debates on issues that don’t look good for leaders.

  5. I’m happy someone actually writes something like “I totally disagree with Vice Minister Wu.” I know what Allen and others will say about free media, but if someone isn’t right (or isn’t perceived to be right) it’s good you can raise your concern.

  6. There is a perception gap between the Chinese and non-Chinese view on the nature of China’s influence, but this is not a gap between perception and reality. It is simply a gap between perception and perception.

    Unless the survey shows that Chinese thinks their country is viewed more favorable overseas than it actually is, there is no conflict with reality. So the survey needs to read “Does foreigners believe China have a positive influence on the world?” instead of “Does China have a positive influence on the world?” to examine this.

    On the perception vs perception question, I can only say “so what?” The people surveyed are not even comparing the same objects.

    “Does China have a positive influence on the world?” is very subjective in an existentialist way: when asked this question, an American might think in terms of “would the world be a better place without China?”, where as a Chinese cannot possibly think in those terms, for he would not exist in such a world. A meaningful analysis would be on the difference in country X and country Y’s perception of country Z.

    This bias more than explains the reported gap. I doubt most respondents have even heard about Confucius institutes or Xinhua expansions. Yan Lieshan’s argument that external propaganda will fail without taking account of international culture and norms may have merit, but linking it with this survey makes no sense at all. (point finger at Mr. Pomfret)

    Separately on Yan Lieshan’s argument: I can see his logic that Chinese tourists should follow local customs, but he then goes on to say that the Chinese’s lack of respect for public space is inherently uncivilized. While I happened to agree with him on this, he probably just lost a good portion of his non-choir audience by introducing this tangent…

    He then claims that playing by the international (auction) rules is Confucian moralist, but the Chinese have forsaken that for Legalism. But wait.. that makes no sense, unless you assume Cai and all his supporters are even more amoral than illegal? Assuming those you might otherwise convince to be amoral.. great.

    His statements on “can’t force rote learning on foreigners” and “can’t act like a monopoly overseas” are tautologies no CCP apologist would challenge. But at least constructing straw mans is not inherently offensive.

    The only meaty statement is that “without freedom of press inside China, external propaganda is doomed to fail.” Is this true? Would it fail anyway? Is it worth giving that freedom to have external propaganda success? Just give up? All worthy questions that Mr. Yan does not provide evidence or arguments for after wasting most of his clearly influential column on non sequitur’s.

  7. Personally I couldn’t post anything at Pekingduck because Richard censor my posts. He is very much like China, and doesn’t like criticism:) I also agree that western Media doesn’t have better to post anything newsworthy like the propaganda garbage about ghostnet. Those guys at the CFR doesn’t have better to do but to distort China image.

  8. Steve, the survey done by Globescan (published thru BBC) is pretty screwed up in my opinion. You simply can’t neglect some important countries such as Pakistan (170+ million) & Brazil (near 200 million), and still call it a world survey. Pew does a better job though I am not sure they weighed headline result by population either. Pew’s numbers for 2007: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/656/how-the-world-sees-china. Pew’s number for 8/5/2008: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/918/china-olympics.

    The 2nd set of Pew numbers show severe deterioration of China’s image in France and Germany, and overall slight deterioration in other countries. The timing of the 2nd survey was after the Torch Relay, and before the Olympic Opening Ceremony. I wonder what the numbers would be like if a survey is taken now. Based on my personal experience, the Torch Relay was overall a net negative to the China’s image, and the whole Olympics was a net positive.

    Surely China can use some PR help. If CCTV was popular worldwide then, at the very least China’s version of narratives w.r.t. the Torch Relay and the overall Tibet issues could be heard, instead the international news was dominated by narratives putting China in bad light (truthful or not really wasn’t the issue). Well, at least to me Al Jazeera’s reporting was of much higher standard than your typical Western news outfits then — it told the stories of both sides. Other than the large quantity of money can definitely help, the world as it stands now can really use another set of ideas too — at least hear it out. I tend to think if the new and improved CCTV English channel(s) are of high news production quality, it will have a quicker way to gain oversea acceptance than Al Jazeera.

    As to France and Germany… What can you do?

  9. This survey is definitely skewed. I won’t make a prediction about a truly global survey. But as it is, you might as well call the survey of China v. West – with a few select states in Asia with territorial disputes with China…

    Not sure about the alleged drop in Turkey and Egypt. Any bloggers from those areas want to offer some insight?

  10. Agree with (1) that sampling is skewed (or screwed?).

    ” Such boisterous activities in restaurants and bars as finger-guessing and other drinking games must be banned. Partygoers can just talk in low voices. When I was visiting a newspaper in Seoul, South Korea, the editorial room with more than 100 people inside was as quiet as a library. People used earphones and microphones when they received phone calls. I feel that was really a civilized atmosphere of mutual respect. ”
    ——-

    Er, is he kidding? I guess he is entitled to his opinion. How do you play drinking games quietly? With earphones and microphones too?

  11. JXie

    The sampled countries are way too skewed.. There are some 400 million mostly Muslims.. In a nutshell, the sampling strongly favored the countries normally called “the West”.

    First, I don’t know what religion has to do with anything. It’s not like Christian countries see China as has having a negative influence and Muslim ones see it positively.

    Second, plenty of the “Western” countries were much more positive about China in past years (I’ve read those surveys). If China is to ever be concerned about what other countries think of it (and it is, otherwise things like this would never be discussed) it has to ask why those views have changed.

    You simply can’t neglect some important countries such as Pakistan (170+ million) & Brazil (near 200 million), and still call it a world survey.

    When it comes to China I don’t think you need to include Pakistan for very obvious reasons. As for Brazil, I agree it should be included.

    The Pew research you mention is interesting, but it appears to ask people about their views of a much smaller number of countries.

    CCTV was popular worldwide then, at the very least China’s version of narratives w.r.t. the Torch Relay and the overall Tibet issues could be heard, instead the international news was dominated by narratives putting China in bad light (truthful or not really wasn’t the issue).

    CCTV isn’t popular worldwide because it’s a piece of rubbish. Seriously, when people watch it it’s usually to have a laugh or because there’s nothing else on (if they’re in the PRC). One of my friends who has actually watched it, and has no beef with China, calls it the “Chinese Propaganda Network”.

    ++++

    Allen

    But as it is, you might as well call the survey of China v. West – with a few select states in Asia with territorial disputes with China.

    That would be a daft position to take given it includes:

    Russia
    Central America
    Chile
    Mexico
    Egypt
    Turkey
    Ghana
    Nigeria
    Indonesia
    Philippines
    India

    which are clearly not part of “the West”.

    Not sure about the alleged drop in Turkey and Egypt. Any bloggers from those areas want to offer some insight?

    Why is it an “alleged drop”? Do you have any evidence to suggest people there are more apathetic/negative towards China?

    Wouldn’t a better title for this thread be perception vs. perception?

    No, I think the title’s fine as it is. The question to me is why there is such a massive discrepancy between how Chinese see their country’s influence and people in other major nations do.

    ++++

    Jed

    How do you play drinking games quietly? With earphones and microphones too?

    First, there is no need to play drinking games in a restaurant. Second, you can play them more quietly so that it’s not distburbing other patrons. I don’t think he’s saying they must be played in silence. As for bars, it very much depends on the establishment.

  12. I feel good about this poll, no, I feel very good about this poll.

    What can you expect from countries like German, France, Italy, Spain and Canada? As China’s financial influence growing stronger and stronger, the (financial) influence by these countries in the world is diminishing rapidly, as poor and developing countries dont have to beg them for money. Of course they are not happy, and of course they have strong negative view on china’s role in the world.

    British are very smart, they stand with US, so they can keep their influence in the world.

    I am surprised by two results in the poll :

    1) Turkey, I personally dont believe that, we chinese didnt do anything, good or bad to them, why would they have such negative view on China ?

    2) India, I am surprised that india has more positive view on China.

    The poll in Africa and south Ameria matters most to China. as China desperately need nature resource to develop her economy.

  13. @ zepplin #6: You wrote: “Unless the survey shows that Chinese thinks their country is viewed more favorable overseas than it actually is, there is no conflict with reality.”

    I believe that was what the WaPo column was getting at. He compared what others thought about China to what the Chinese thought others thought about China. So the Chinese thought their country was viewed more favorably overseas than it actually is, just as you stated. That huge discrepancy was the reason I wrote up the thread and also why I titled it “Perception vs. Reality?”.

    Now JXie brought up a good point and it was that the countries surveyed didn’t include several major nations and wasn’t a true “worldwide” survey. That’s fair, and his link to the Pew Research survey helped increase the data to make an evaluation. What I found interesting in the Pew data was that two countries with high negatives towards China were South Korea and Japan, two of China’s closest neighbors. I could understand Japan’s view to some extent, but the South Korean negatives surprised me.

    Jordan and Turkey’s numbers were also interesting. I’m not sure why Wahaha believes all the numbers except Turkey’s. Statistic sampling is a pretty exact science so I’d think they’d be just as accurate as any other. Just because you don’t know why they are what they are is no reason to dismiss them. South Africa’s negatives also stuck out compared to the other African countries. I also wonder why they were so negative?

    Positives would be Indonesia, Australia, Egypt, Britain and Russia. One aspect of the Pew survey was that it showed perceptions of China throughout the world by country, while the BBC survey just showed the overall perception. The statistic of 92% of Chinese thinking the rest of the world thought positively about their country was in Pomfret’s column but not in the BBC survey so I’m not sure where that number came from. If it’s accurate, it would definitely be a very inaccurate perception no matter which countries were surveyed.

    So the original question still stands; why do Chinese have a higher perception vs. reality difference than any other country, regardless of what that reality actually is? If every country were surveyed, I agree with JXie that the negatives towards China would be lower but the positives still wouldn’t be anywhere near 92%.

    @Raj & Jed: I’ve played a few drinking games in Chinese bars and don’t think it’d be a problem if they were played in a normal American bar, but they would not fit in a restaurant or a high class bar. If Mr. Yan is referring to inappropriate behavior in restaurants then it makes sense, but I’ve played American drinking games in normal American bars so if he doesn’t think Chinese can or should play them anywhere, then he’d be mistaken.

    The noise level in an establishment determines how much noise you can make. If you are the only loud people then of course it’s rude, but if the noise level is high then make all the noise you want. Just expect a few curious people to come up to you and ask how to play. 😀

  14. the South Korean negatives surprised me

    Steve, are you seriously telling me you thought South Koreans viewed China positively until now?

    The noise level in an establishment determines how much noise you can make. If you are the only loud people then of course it’s rude, but if the noise level is high then make all the noise you want.

    Yes, that would be what I was getting at.

  15. @steve
    yeah, the survey is not representative and statistically bias so i wouldn’t read too much into it.
    In addition to perception vs reality, this is nothing surprising, a majority of people believe they are above average drivers 🙂

  16. @Raj #12,

    You mentioned a bunch of non-Western countries. Here are their numbers:

    Russia 45
    Central America 62
    Chile 60
    Mexico 34
    Egypt 62
    Turkey 18
    Ghana 75
    Nigeria 72
    Indonesia 43
    Philippines 39
    India 30

    Most of these numbers are quite high – especially when read in context. Almost all the ones that have low numbers can be explained away as having territorial disputes with China.

    Turkey I mentioned in my comment above deserves some attention (though it could be bad sampling for all I know).

    Same goes with Mexico.

  17. One number that jumped out at me when I studied it last night was that Russia has a 74% rating in China, but China only has a 45% rating in Russia.

    What’s up with that?

  18. @Steve

    The BBC survey states the question “Please tell me if you think each of the following countries are having a mainly positive or mainly negative influence in the world: China”

    They are not asking the Chinese “What do you think people in other country think of China?”

    It is perfectly rational to think that China has a positive influence, but also think that China is viewed unfavorably. That’s a viewpoint I gather from many over-seas Chinese. So there is no conflict between perception vs reality from the survey results as Mr. Pomfret suggests.

    Mr. Pomfret also gives anecdotal evidence for the Chinese’s belief in the benevolence of China, but he doesn’t show evidence for Chinese’s belief in the positive reception of China overseas. Unless I’m missing some evidence here, none of this seems to have anything to do with perception vs reality.

  19. Allen

    Most of these numbers are quite high – especially when read in context.

    Your point being…. ?

    Almost all the ones that have low numbers can be explained away as having territorial disputes with China.

    Is it as simple as that? Japan has a territorial dispute with Russia, but the Russians are on balance very positive about Japan. The French are more negative and they’re on another continent.

    Furthermore, as I said earlier on, previous surveys had China with higher ratings.

    http://www.globescan.com/news_archives/bbccntryview/backgrounder.html

    I think this was the 2007 report. You can see that there China has ratings of 62%-27% in Indonesia and 44%-20% in the Philippines.

    So clearly whether one has a territorial dispute or not isn’t the key factor. What China is doing or is believed to be doing affects the polling.

  20. @Raj #20,

    Interesting thing about the jump in values … in such close time proximity.

    If the methodology can be trusted, such shifts are definitely worth looking into …

    As for what my point is about pointing out the numbers – I just want to point out that the negative numbers can be explained (right or wrong) in large part by geopolitical self interest …

  21. @Steve, #14

    “So the original question still stands; why do Chinese have a higher perception vs. reality difference than any other country, regardless of what that reality actually is?”

    I think its for the following reasons:

    1. Chinese media are positive generally. Western media are very negative. For example, U.S. citizens think the U.S. government is royally screwed up. The Chinese thinks their government is doing great. Media on both sides re-inforce this view.
    2. China is on a rapid trajectory towards growth – and I think self-confidence plays a very strong influence in surveys like this. The “hope” aspect is a big component. For example, the world need’s China, and for the first time, China has leverage to gain more power within IMF. I would argue in the U.S., the perception of this “trajectory” is towards decline.
    3. China’s development and governance is a model for developing countries – as alternative to the West – and this is extremely exciting to see.

  22. Hey – who tagged this page as “annoying” (see link to trackback below)!

    Well – I guess if we can’t be famous – we’ll be infamous! 😀

  23. A friend emailed me the following on Fenqings, FenWais’ perceptions and reality:

    http://granitestudio.org/2009/03/15/lonely-boys-and-losers-are-we-overstating-the-fenqing-phenomenon/

    :”[…] If you read Chinese language forums and blogs inside China, you’ll immediately see that it’s cool to vent anti-government sentiments, but not pro-government comments, even though both types of comments are often equally full of bigotry rather than sound analysis. As the Hong Kong scholar Gan Yang points out, nowadays in China it takes more courage to express support of the government than to denounce the government. Contrary to what people outside China might imagine, it’s fashionable in today’s China to denounce the Chinese government, at least on the internet.”
    “As far as I can tell, inside China there are more anti-government fenqins than pro-government fenqins. Unfortunately, many western media have habitually equated fenqin with nationalism.” Politically Incorrect wrote.

  24. Not sure why Turkish view China so negatively, but they view the US even more negatively. It’s the same with old European countries, overall they dislike both the US and China. It seems their negative sentiment, may have more to do with them, than with China. Maybe they don’t like foreigners much. Maybe it’s how Pew’s questions phrased in local languages. Maybe they don’t like superpower or superpower-in-waiting (if you will). Here is an interested thought… which countries view the US and China differently (defined as 15% or more difference in favorable views)?

    They are (Country, % favorable views on China, % favorable views on the US), based on the Pew 2008 data:

    Poland, 33%, 68%
    South Korea, 48%, 70%
    India, 46%, 66%
    Japan, 14%, 50%
    South Africa, 37%, 60%

    Egypt, 59%, 22%
    Jordan, 44%, 19%
    Pakistan, 76%, 19%
    Indonesia, 58%, 37%
    Nigeria, 79%, 64%

  25. @Hongkong: That’s a great article, thanks for sharing! In general, fenqing are a bit like libertarians – on the internet, they seem to be everywhere, but it’s almost impossible to find them in real life. On the other hand, I think the question as to whether fenqing are anti-government or not is a non sequitur. There is a strong current in Chinese nationalism which thinks the government is too soft on a lot of issues, and they will never support the current government unless it gets less diplomatic. These are the same bunch of people who fret about China not having an aircraft carrier.

  26. @Wukailong, Hongkonger,

    “nowadays in China it takes more courage to express support of the government than to denounce the government. Contrary to what people outside China might imagine, it’s fashionable in today’s China to denounce the Chinese government, at least on the internet”
    Agreed. I have the same feeling and observation. Speaking the government lines make you look uncool and naive.

    However, my understanding of ‘fenqing’ is opposite to what explained in this article. I thought ‘fenqing’ are pro-government, ‘jingying’ (elite) are critical to the government, like libertarians in the west. you can meet ‘fenqing’ at forum tianya.cn; meet ‘jingying’ at http://www.cat898.com. Am I right?

  27. @Sophie 28

    I know exactly what you mean when being labeled fenqing. In another forum I posted some Tibet related topic and a person who runs Asia related blog site just came out and made personal attacks against me and labeling me a fenqing. Many of these people who labels others fenqing thinks these so called fenqings are ignorant when they are not. Many of these people have an “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality and doesn’t seem to respectfully disagree on opposing views. Given enough school years of being taught of the ‘evils of communism’ and then the only thing you are taught is just blind hate toward communist China.

  28. @pug_ster
    What you say is true, however, it goes both ways. I am sure you don’t do it and do not warrant those comments, but I have been attacked for disagreeing. Many FQ are ignorant and just attack bloggers who writes things that disagree with their beliefs, automatically. I can use your comment of “Given enough school years of being taught of the ‘China is perfect and great’ and the then the only thing you are taught is just blind hate towards ‘west'”

    You have to understand, there are people like that on both sides……

  29. Actually, I would be more interested, from a credibility point of view, in a poll of Overseas Chinese’ perception of China. By Overseas Chinese I mean not just Taiwan, but also East Asia, SE Asia, N. America, Europe etc.

    I would also like to see a breakdown by age and generations of the people sampled. I believe it will be a more interesting reading considering that Overseas Chinese have experience of both China and Chinese and Western culture and politics.

    Does anybody know whether such a poll exists?

  30. Regarding the low ratings from Mexico and Turkey, alot of it actually has to do with economics and industrial competition.

  31. Many comments on whether the poll is representative or not. Pity almost no one jumps on the remarks of Mr. Wu Dawei and asks the question ‘what can we as Chinese learn from it’? As expat living long term in China i could choose to give my views, but that would still be the views of a westerner (though fluent in Chinese).

    So let’s do something else: I put here a summary of the comments of Taipei international airport tax free shop staff on the visits by mainland China tour groups. They also have a Chinese cultural background, speak (almost) the same language and should have little differences. However, most of them commented they would be happy if Taiwan would ban Chinese tour groups visiting them a.s.a.p. because of:
    – The loud noise when people speak in an otherwise quiet environment
    – The frequent disputes about nothing and instantly calling names/cursing without reason
    – The mess they create in toilets and other public facilities (e.g. spit in garbage bins)
    – ‘No smoking’ signs are simply ignored and people get annoyed when you point at these signs
    – The clogging of elevators and escalators, so that people in a hurry can not pass
    – Haggling over everything, touching and replacing everything and buying nothing
    – The mess created in restaurants and bars

    Maybe it’s because most of these groups are people in their 50’s/60’s (in general the poorly educated generation), but i’m just curious how mr. Wu Dawei would react to these comments from fellow Chinese.

  32. @miaka9383 30,

    Yes I totally agree with you. However, most people can try to respectfully disagree and not try to take things personally.

  33. @pug_ster
    I think the whole thing about agree to disagree depends on your personal education. I was just reading about the manners of Chinese tourists. It seems like, with amount of youngster getting more education, the manners of a particular group of people will improve. I believe that we can apply to this case. The FQ and the Rednecks they think they are right ALL the time. So when someone disagrees with them, with their limited vocabulary they can’t argue back so they resort to insult.
    My bf always says, manners starts at home and then from school. I think if your parents taught you good manners, you will not act barbaric, ignorant in real life or on the internet.
    People can try to respectfully disagree and not try to take things personally, but when someone makes a comment “paying respect to your mother” , no matter how well mannered you are, you will take it personally. So if in this case, your teachers and parents instilled certain values and manners in you, you either report the insult or just completely ignore them.

    I mean, Europeans HATE American tourists. Because majority of Americans are ignorant and loud in public and have no manners. So those of us who does have manners, tend to say we are either “New Mexicans” (because no one knows where new mexico is) or Canadians. But I believe that if U.S can slowly evolve into better tourists.. so can China and on the net also…

  34. @Woodenshoe #35
    I doubt the duty free shop clerks would support the ban of Chinese tourists, if it is actually being suggested because the more Chinese Tourists is shopping, there are more guarantees of these sales clerk will keep their jobs.

  35. @miaka9383 #36

    There’s indeed 2 sides to this as well: they need them to keep their jobs, but the don’t want (part of) them for their manners. But as you said in #35, this will evolve over time, as you can already see a big difference between the older and (city raised) younger generation.

  36. Whenever I asked office workers in China what they thought other people’s POVs of mainland Chinese tourists were, the white collar workers basically listed the above Taiwanese complains Woodenshoe listed. Most of the rank and files employees don’t travel abroad. However, those who do, such as sales managers etc., were very swift in telling their mates how embarrassing (lost of face) it was for them to witness the uncouth mannerism their fellow country folks exhibit as tourists overseas.

    miaka9383 Says: I mean, Europeans HATE American tourists. Because majority of Americans are ignorant and loud in public and have no manners. So those of us who do have manners, tend to say we are either “New Mexicans” (because no one knows where new mexico is) or Canadians. But I believe that if U.S can slowly evolve into better tourists.. so can China and on the net also…

    “if US can slowly evolve”? Wait a minute, we are talking about the number one Superpower, the wealthiest nation on earth, not to mention the freaking bloody Policeman of planet earth here. I mean, how long did it take Japanese tourists from being the brunt of western ridicules to being voted as the most polite guests in the world today?
    I agree with ya Miaka. And I hope it will not take China as long to act wiser than it’s number one basher (and friend) is all I am saying 😉

  37. @Woodenshoe #33.

    You’re right on the mainlanders’ behavior and I wrote something here before.

    Come to think of it. It may be due to our generation of lost education due to the ‘Cultural Revolution’ and the long isolation of China until the last 30 years. Chinese still have a tough, challenging life even in big cities in China. If you’re too polite or not aggressive, you will never cross the streets of most major cities – have you played the game frogger (Beijing version) in crossing the street? 🙂

    I was cut in line waiting for the elevator by a lady dressed in business attire. I felt she felt sorry after she looked at my tourist attire.

    After the Olympics, folks in Beijing are learning, so is the rest of China. So, Chinese should be improving in their behavior. If you compare them to folks in developing countries, they’re doing good esp. the younger generation – except picking nose in public.

    I do not think banning tourists from China is good at all. The more folks come outside China, the more they learn. They’re welcome all over the world (sometimes are despised at due to the bad behavior). They pick up a lot of expensive goods like laptops, MP3, cameras… It is due to the high tariff on imported goods. It is true a few years ago and I do not know whether it is still true.

  38. What does it take to make a poll? Can FM join with other China-centric blog sites to create such poll? Since this site has heavy readerships in SE Asia, N America and Europe, I think a poll sponsored by blog sites like this one would have a more interesting results.

Leave a Reply