Views on China. From the Top.

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The Friends of Europe, together with Gallup Europe, have produced a paper on “EU and US Leaders’ Views on China”. The survey, conducted in June and July 2006, included feedback from an impressive array of respondents (95 senior politicians, academics and assorted worthies). Some of the main findings (with my comments in italics) included:

1. “The opinion that China is more open and responsive remains controversial among EU and US leaders”

    o 48% agree, but only 4% agreed completely – while 23% completely disagreed and 20% mostly disagreed. The EU respondents were far more in agreement (93% mostly agreed) on this point than those from the US (74% mostly disagreed).

    o Comment: A useful reminder that EU and US interests are not always aligned, and that our cultural baggage is very different.

2. “The majority of leaders think it is difficult to do business with China because of its bureaucracy and political system”

    o The majority is a narrow one at 55%, but this time it is the EU that mostly agrees there is a problem (86%) while the US (76%) mostly disagrees.

    o Comment: I for one think that most political systems and bureaucracies are difficult to do business with! China’s issues may be on a bigger scale, but they are far from unique.

3. “Contrary to EU leaders, the majority of US leaders don’t agree that China’s fast industrial development will have a positive impact on the world economy”.

    o Overall 56% mostly agree China will be an important new force in the world economy, and a further 17% completely agree. However, while none of the EU responses disagreed with the proposition, 60% of US responses did.

    o Comment: The differences in transatlantic opinion are likely to show up in policy and practice as time moves on. I suspect that the positive or negative impact felt by the US and EU will depend in part on how they address the challenge, and that a more positive engagement will bring more positive results.

4. “China’s role as an important economic force for Europe is seen as an opportunity as much as a threat”.

    o 52% of respondents mostly agreed (and 3% completely agreed) that China’s impact would be an important, positive force for Europe.

    o Comment: It looks like opinion could go either way on this one. However, I don’t think anyone would deny that, for good or bad, China will have a big impact.

5. “There is a strong consensus that China needs political stability to pursue its fast economic growth.”

    o 90% mostly (50%) or completely (40%) agree that stability is needed.

    o Comment: No surprise here, but then again I think it likely that political stability would assist fast economic growth in China as much as anywhere else. But in China they look likely to have it. Not so (on either count) in the UK or US perhaps…

6. “China’s future military aspirations are still in question among EU and US leaders.”

    o 46% think there military aspirations for China in Asia and the world will come along with economic growth, while another 46% do not.

    o Comment: Well, China would not be the first to have such aspirations – unwise, and unpopular, as they may turn out to be. The question is, will China be aggressive or expansionist? That I doubt.

7. “Half of the leaders think that the relationship between the EU and China is improving, while the other half think it is remaining the same.”

    o “Only a small minority, 6% think it is deteriorating”

8. “Leaders think that environmental issues, global warming/climate change, and energy should be a priority for bilateral engagements.”

    o It is a good thing that the dialogue is more than just on trade and IPR (though those challenges are mentioned elsewhere) – as long as the EU (and the West) does not simply deliver lectures to a developing country.

9. “The majority of respondents think that EU leaders lack in-depth understanding of China-related issues”

    o A bit worrying…

That final point is especially telling – but at least it is better to know that you don’t know, than to think that you do! Let’s hope that “EU leaders” get to read the report.

2 Responses to “Views on China. From the Top.”

  1. Views on China. From the Top. :: Newstack Says:

    […] rall 56% mostly agree China will be an important new force in the world … Read more: here

    Posted in industrial development |

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  2. Views on China. From the Top. :: Newstack Says:

    […] ustrial development will have a positive impact on the world economy”. … Read more: here

    Posted in industrial issues |

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