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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid