Survey: Chinese cautiously optimistic about China-Japan ties

By Fan Junmei
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 23, 2016
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A new opinion poll finds the majority of Chinese respondents think that China and Japan should peacefully coexist and seek common development through win-win cooperation.

'The Public Opinion on China-Japan Relations 2016' survey was released in Tokyo on Sept. 23, two days ahead of the 12th Beijing-Tokyo Forum. [Photo/]

"The Public Opinion on China-Japan Relations 2016" survey was released in Tokyo on Sept. 23, five days ahead of the 12th Beijing-Tokyo Forum. [Photo/]

"The Public Opinion on China-Japan Relations 2016" survey, co-sponsored by China International Publishing Group (CIPG) and Japanese nonprofit think tank Genron NPO, was released in Tokyo on Sept. 23, five days ahead of the 12th Beijing-Tokyo Forum.

It is scheduled to be held Sept. 27-28 in the Japanese capital on the theme of "Sino-Japanese cooperation for Asian and world peace and development."

Wang Gangyi, vice president of CIPG, released key figures from the survey showing a majority of the Chinese public continue to see the significance of the bilateral relationship; however, they still don't think highly of the status quo.

In 2016, 70.8 percent of the Chinese respondents said the China-Japan relations are important or relatively important, a little higher than 70.1 percent in 2015. 78.2 percent said the relations now are bad or relatively bad, 11 percent up from last year. In terms of the future of the relationship, 33.8 percent of the Chinese respondents said it might continue to deteriorate, 18 percent up from the previous year.

However, optimism is strengthening, as the portion of Chinese respondents who are upbeat about ties increased. Among the Chinese surveyed, 23 percent believed relations will turn good or relatively good, while the portion in 2015 was 17.5 percent. About 30.8 percent believed China and Japan can coexist and seek common development (last year only 19.4 percent believed this). In addition, 14.4 percent thought the two countries will continue to be rivals, compared to 24.8 percent in 2015.

To improve ties, Chinese respondents suggested the two sides restore political trust, strengthen cooperation on global issues, enhance economic relations and reinforce security cooperation.

Data also showed Chinese respondents were confident of a pick-up in trade and economic relations, wishing the two countries strengthen cooperation on Asian affairs and global issues such as maintaining peace in Northeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and advancing economic cooperation with developing countries.

Regarding economic relations, 61.5 percent believed the two economies are highly complementary to each other and win-win cooperation is possible, 10 percent up from last year.

To boost economic ties, 45.8 percent thought the most effective way is to improve the relationship between the two governments, and 39.6 percent believed enhancing practical cooperation between Chinese and Japanese enterprise is also essential.

Chinese respondents consider disputes over territorial claims, maritime resources, and historical issues as the main obstacles for bilateral ties, the survey found.

In terms of territorial disputes, 44.8 percent of Chinese respondents worried a military clash could break out, 13.7 percent up from 2015.

Japan's handling of historical issues is a major factor for Chinese respondents' bad impression about the neighbor. About 63.6 percent thought Japan didn't sincerely reflect on or apologize for its historic aggression against China, and 65.1 percent advised Japan respect history, an increase of 8.9 percentage points from the previous year.

Exchanges between media, students, teachers and educational personnel are considered the main channels to boost public diplomacy between the two countries. The contribution of people-to-people interactions to improving ties was endorsed by 66.9 percent.

The poll also showed that 89.5 percent of Chinese respondents were diversifying their knowledge of Japan through the Chinese media, and 73 percent agreed that the Chinese media injected positive energy to the bilateral ties.

And it is noteworthy that 26.7 percent of the respondents said they obtained Japan-related information through the mobile internet.

The survey in China was conducted from August 13 to 24, involving 1,587 residents in 10 cities including Beijing and Shanghai, and 612 elites including entrepreneurs, civil servants, scholars and media personnel.

The opinion polls, which have been conducted consecutively for 11 years, mirror the will of the two peoples and serve as an important channel to understand each other.

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