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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid