Committee100: China, U.S. need to improve trust and cooperation

China and the United States needed to further improve political and business cooperation, according to a new survey released on Thursday.

The survey, conducted by the Committee of 100 (C-100), a U.S. non-partisan Chinese-American cultural-exchange advocacy organization, revealed that less than half of the U.S. public (48 percent) think the U.S. should trust China a great deal or some, while among Chinese participants, 45.8 percent think the U.S. is trustworthy.

The Committee of 100’s opinion survey project began in 1994 and produced opinion surveys in 2001, 2005, 2007, and 2012. The objective of this study is to determine American attitudes toward China, and, as a “mirror,” measure Chinese attitudes toward America on key issues in US-China relations and salient domestic issues in both countries. The target respondent groups in both countries include general public, opinion leaders and business leaders with a stand-alone sample of the US policy community.

The survey findings provide unique, comprehensive and comparative information that can be used to enhance US-China relations and formulate recommendations on how to forge mutually beneficial partnerships, including leader-to-leader, people-to-people, organization-to-organization, and many others to foster greater understanding and build trust between the United States and China.

Titled “U.S.-China Public Perceptions Opinion Survey 2012”, the survey also found that the U.S. public’s top two concerns of China are the alleged loss of U.S. jobs to China (40 percent) and the U. S. trade deficit with China (35 percent) , while the U.S.-China dispute over the Chinese currency exchange rate is the top most concern of the Chinese public. “We will use this study to advocate for constructive relationship-building between the peoples of the U.S. and China and to further promote education, diplomacy, and leadership development,” said Dominic Ng, C-100 Chairman.

The study surveyed 1,400 Americans and more than 4,000 Chinese people from December 14, 2011 to January 31, 2012, which measures significant shifts in U.S. and Chinese attitudes since 2007 on high-impact economic, political, and security issues, including trade and investment, and U.S. military presence in the Asia Pacific.

Executive Summary

The re-establishment of US-China relations in 1971 marked a strategic step that ended China’s isolation and transformed the global balance of power. Since that historic milestone, the United States as an established superpower and China as an emerging global power stand at the crossroads of cooperation and competition. Washington and Beijing understand the high stakes and hard choices involved in finding common ground amid global market uncertainty, security risks and domestic pressures.

In this pivotal year of political leadership transition unfolding in the United States and China, the Committee of 100’s Opinion Survey 2012 provides timely insight into American and Chinese attitudes toward each other on high impact issues. This year’s survey takes a comparative look at US and Chinese public and elite perceptions based on C-100’s mirror surveys conducted by American and Chinese polling firms in 2007 and 2012. In examining and integrating both years’ data and findings, C-100 has identified four overarching themes, presented in this executive summary, that characterize American and Chinese perceptions.

These core themes underpin the report’s six sections: Overall Impressions, Mutual Interests and Concerns, US-China Policy, Trade and Investment, Media Sources, and Domestic Views.

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Overall Impressions

Shared global leadership: Converging consensus between American and Chinese respondents confirm China’s emergence as a global superpower and expanding influence in the global economy. The Chinese public has growing confidence about China’s status, but American public and elites have strong concerns and suspicions toward China’s future economic and military roles. As an established global superpower, the United States questions its current direction. Chinese elites anticipate US global leadership will continue over the next 20 years, but the Chinese public believes US global influence has decreased over the past 10 years.

Favorable views, reserved trust: The United States and China are almost evenly divided on the level of trust towards each other; they hold di fering views and values on complex issues ranging from the pursuit of personal goals to the national direction. Compared to 2007, an increasing proportion of the American public accepts China as a rising power and wants a collaborative relationship, but a growing percentage of the Chinese public believes the US is trying to prevent China from becoming a great power. The two peoples are skeptical about their own governments in handling the bilateral relationship, as well as their own national media in the truthfulness of reporting about each other. Despite these differences, the overall view toward each other remains favorable.

Domestic Concerns, divided views: Each nation is facing complex domestic concerns and divided views. Jobs and the economy are the top US concerns, followed by the budget deficit, campaign finance, political gridlock, among others. The Chinese public’s top domestic concern is corruption; Chinese business leaders cite HIV and communicable diseases; Chinese opinion leaders identify morality issues and Taiwan.

Hopes and fears on economic and military issues: The United States and China share hopes and fears on important bilateral issues, especially economic and military. An overwhelming majority of American and Chinese public and elites believe trade is mutually beneficial, but concerns about trade deficit, intellectual property protection, job losses, product safety, and corruption also make trade the leading source of bilateral conflict. With China being the largest holder of US debt, the Chinese public does not believe US Treasury bonds are safe investments. Although a large majority of American elites expect Chinese investment in the US will create jobs and improve US-China ties, the American public is concerned about potential loss of US technological advantage or even control of its economy. American respondents believe US military presence is expected to help maintain security in the Asia Pacific, but the Chinese view it as a major concern for future conflicts. American respondents in 2012 believe China-Taiwan relations are a strategic issue in US-China relations, while the Chinese pubic and elites express more confidence that the issue is evolving towards peaceful resolution. The well-being of the United States and China is now deeply intertwined. Each is recognized as the other’s most important partner. Both countries need each other more than ever to resolve global challenges.

Consensus on a rising china: A large majority of American and Chinese public and elites agree China will have leading influence in the Asia Pacific region 20 years from now. China will have the most influence over the global economy in the next 20 years by a smaller-margin consensus. The US will remain the world’s leading superpower over the next 20 years according to US and Chinese elites.

About:

The Committee of 100 is an international, non-profit, non-partisan membership organization that brings a Chinese American perspective to issues concerning Asian Americans and U.S.-China relations. Our organization draws upon the collective experience, knowledge and resources of our members – Chinese Americans who have achieved prominence in a variety of fields and work in partnership towards our mission.

The Committee of 100 is committed to a dual mission:

To encourage constructive relations between the peoples of the United States and Greater China.
To promote the full participation of Chinese Americans in all fields of American life.