News / Asia

Survey Finds Many Chinese Support American Ideals

A demonstrator shouts during a protest to denounce the governments voting system outside the venue where a 1,200-member election committee are to choose the city's new leader, in Hong Kong, March 25, 2012.
A demonstrator shouts during a protest to denounce the governments voting system outside the venue where a 1,200-member election committee are to choose the city's new leader, in Hong Kong, March 25, 2012.
As China prepares for a carefully orchestrated transition in its Communist Party leadership, a new survey suggests a growing number of Chinese like the very different way the United States chooses its leaders.

The survey by Pew Research Center suggests that 52 percent of people in the single-party state have a positive opinion of American ideas about democracy, a figure four percent higher than in 2007. Among high income Chinese, 7 in 10 said they like American democratic ideals.

Interest in US election

The data was released as China is set to begin its once-a-decade leadership transfer, a secretive, behind-the-scenes process that is undertaken without a popular vote. It also comes during the height of a U.S. presidential campaign that Chinese are increasingly enamored with.

That fact was not lost on China's Communist Party-controlled newspaper, the Global Times, which acknowledged this week that many English-speaking Chinese were watching the U.S. presidential debates with interest. This, it said, showed their "admiration for U.S.-style democracy."

But the paper, which often reflects official views, was careful to point out that more than half the respondents to the Pew survey said they do not like the U.S. And it said that the number of those who think China should adopt U.S. political ideas is shrinking.

The Pew survey did not provide any figures that proved or disproved this theory. But it did say that 82 percent of Chinese reported being "happy with the way things are going" in China, suggesting that most are not upset with Communist Party rule.

Influential Internet

Jeremy Goldkorn, the editor of Danwei.com, a website about Chinese media and Internet, explaines it is natural that many Chinese are paying more attention to the U.S. presidential campaign, given the rising influence of the Internet.

"The rise of social media and in particular Weibo, which has made it very easy for people to follow the debates in real time, has certainly generated some excitement of some Chinese who are active on the Internet," says Goldkorn.

Goldkorn says it is mainly young, tech-savvy people who are watching the debates online, since they are not shown on Chinese television.

But as to whether those watching like what they see and want it to come to their country, Goldkorn says it is difficult to tell.

"People don't necessarily say that because China doesn't have an electoral democracy like the United States it's worse, or that China should mimic the United States," says Goldkorn. "There are people who say that. But there are also plenty and plenty of people who may find the United States' democracy attractive but nonetheless don't think it will work in China."

Frustration

One thing that does seem clear from the survey is that the Chinese public are getting increasingly frustrated with certain aspects of their own system, including economic inequality, food safety scandals, and notably, political corruption.

Richard Wike, the Associate Director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, said that corrupt officials are now one of the top concerns of the Chinese public.

"Back in 2008, when we asked about this, we already had a fairly large number of people telling us it was a major problem. Thirty-nine percent said corrupt officials were a very big problem back then. This year, though, that's up significantly, it's up to 50 percent saying that corrupt officials are a very big problem in the country," says Wike.

The problem of corruption has been highlighted by a series of recent high-profile scandals involving Communist Party leaders, including Bo Xilai, the disgraced ex-Politburo member whose wife has been convicted of murder. Other less well-known scandals are a regular occurrence within party ranks.

China's Communist leaders have said they see widespread corruption as a factor that threatens their rule, and have vowed to correct the problem as the leadership transition begins next month.

But the party seems reluctant to embrace any Western-style changes to its political system. A Global Times editorial earlier this week said that many are using the issue of corruption to "attack China's political system." But it warned that "fighting corruption isn't all about political reform."

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jonathan huang from: canada
October 19, 2012 3:36 PM
what western-style to do with anti-corruption? so you are telling me Sakoqi was not corrupted? US has no corruption? I know Canada has huge amount of corrupted officials. Oh,Indian is western style right? I really dont think Indian democratic elected officials corrupt less than Chinese dictatorship communist officials. Am I right?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More