[Marxism] Chinese and US popular attitudes mirror divergent direction of economies

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Wed Jul 23 18:06:50 MDT 2008

Economy Helps Make Chinese the Leaders in Optimism, Survey Finds
New York Times
July 23, 2008


WASHINGTON — Buoyed by years of extraordinary growth and the promise of the
Olympic Games, the Chinese people hold strikingly positive views of their
national economy and the direction their country is heading, ranking first
in both measures among 24 countries recently surveyed, the Pew Research
Center said Tuesday.

China “is clearly a nation that sees itself as ascendant, and that leads to
tremendous satisfaction with the way things are going nationwide, even
though the people are still struggling on an individual level,” said Andrew
Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center.

Eighty-six percent of Chinese people surveyed said they were content with
the country’s direction, up from 48 percent in 2002. The next highest
country, Australia, was 25 percentage points lower, at 61 percent. And 82
percent of Chinese were satisfied with their national economy, up from 52

By comparison, only 23 percent of people surveyed from the United States
said they were satisfied with their country’s direction and only 20 percent
said the American economy was good.

Russians were the third most-satisfied people with their country’s
direction, at 54 percent, despite Western concerns about authoritarian
trends in the country.

Except for Spain, which placed fourth at 50 percent, the people of major
European countries were far from content. Only about 3 in 10 British, French
and Germans expressed satisfaction with the direction of their nations.

The survey, part of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, did find rising
concern in China about the costs of rapid growth. The biggest concern
Chinese respondents expressed was rising prices. Corruption and
environmental degradation also worried most Chinese people.

The Chinese respondents — surveyed after the onset of civil unrest over
Tibet but before the May 12 earthquake in southwestern China — were somewhat
less satisfied with their own lives than with national conditions. Most
Chinese “feel a genuine sense of great pride in what has been achieved,”
said Melissa Murphy, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington.

The roaring Chinese economy sent food prices up by 22 percent in April,
compared with a year before, and 96 percent of the Chinese surveyed cited
rising prices as their leading concern. Among their other concerns: the gap
between rich and poor (89 percent), corrupt officials (78 percent), air
pollution (74 percent), unemployment (68 percent) and water pollution (66

Sixty-five percent of the Chinese said the government was doing a good job
on the issues most important to them, though support was somewhat less in
the western and central provinces, which have not enjoyed the rapid growth
of eastern regions.

Amid heightened scrutiny over flawed or contaminated Chinese exports, the
survey provided a reminder that the country’s largely state-controlled news
media still keep a lid on news of negative developments.

Only 1 percent of Chinese respondents said they had heard a lot about
problems with Chinese-made products.

Thirty-four percent of those surveyed, up from 25 percent in 2006, said
people in China were paying too much attention to the Games. That feeling
was even stronger in Beijing, expressed by nearly half of the city’s

But optimism that the Games would improve China’s image was strong,
apparently little affected by the pro-Tibet and anti-China protests around
the globe surrounding the torch relay.

Ms. Murphy, noting that 96 percent of respondents said they believed China’s
hosting of the Games would prove successful, said, “It might have some
officials in Beijing worried about the consequences if the Games are not.”

As a sense of self-confidence grows in China, some appear to see the
English-speaking world as of relatively declining importance. While 77
percent agreed that “children need to learn English to succeed in the world
today,” this was down from 92 percent in 2002.

The poll was based on 3,212 face-to-face interviews conducted in 16 dialects
from March 28 to April 19 across China, though disproportionately in urban
areas. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus two percentage points.
Sample sizes and error margins in the other countries varied.

David Barboza contributed reporting from Beijing.

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