More than 80 percent of Chinese say they do not yet see their country as a “world power,” a newspaper poll published yesterday showed.
The survey, in the Global Times daily, also said that more than half of respondents expressed a “positive view” of Beijing’s relations with Washington, though most were pessimistic about ties with Tokyo.
A total of 82.3 percent of people surveyed said that China had yet to obtain world power status.
The statistic made the front-page headline of the paper’s English-language edition — but in the Chinese-language version the story was relegated to a low mention on an inside page.
The Global Times, which has links to the Chinese Communist Party, said the poll was released by its Global Poll Center. The survey, carried out via telephone and the Internet, collected responses from 1,404 residents above the age of 15 in seven cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.
Public opinion polls are rare in China, where the government decries notions of what it calls “Western-style” democracy.
When asked what “the most significant event that helped elevate China’s international standing” last year was, 44.6 percent of respondents cited the Chinese navy taking delivery of the country’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
A former Soviet vessel, it went into service in September in a symbolic milestone for China’s growing military muscle.
However, the paper quoted Zhu Feng (朱鋒), a professor at Peking University’s School of International Studies, as saying: “Being a world power is not about how many aircraft carriers it has. It’s more about demonstrating a humble, elegant, confident image on a global platform.”
In the survey, 54 percent of respondents said China was on the verge of becoming a world power, while 53 percent felt positive about Sino-US relations.
About 57 percent named China as their favorite country, with the US coming in second place.
“It’s good to see a growing patriotism and recognition among Chinese for their motherland, but we cannot deny that the US does have an appeal to some,” Zhu said. “For example, it does a better job at democracy and law enforcement.”
Most survey respondents had a dim view of the outlook for relations with Japan, with which China is embroiled in a territorial dispute.
Less than 24 percent felt that relations with Tokyo would improve, with 33 percent seeing them worsening and 38 percent thinking they would stay the same.
The survey found that nearly 70 percent cited Japan’s nationalization of three of the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), which Tokyo calls the Senkakus and are also claimed by China and Taiwan, as “the most significant global event in 2012.”