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Chinese are confident of world role

News, 07 October 2016

BEIJING/WASHINGTON DC: Three-quarters (75%) of Chinese citizens believe China is playing a more important role in world affairs than a decade ago and 60% say its involvement in the global economy is a good thing, a new survey has found.

But while Chinese people express confidence about their country's future – and are upbeat about their personal economic circumstances – there is a general tendency to be more inward-looking than other nations.

Just 22% agree that their government should help other countries while around three-quarters (77%) believe that their way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence, a rise of 13 percentage points since 2002.

These are some of the key findings from a survey of 3,154 Chinese people conducted by the Pew Research Center think tank, which concentrated on the geopolitical implications of Chinese attitudes but also unearthed information of value to marketers.

For example, almost nine-in-ten Chinese consumers believe the economy is in good shape, with 76% expecting it to improve over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, almost two-thirds (63%) say that their personal economic situation is good and 70% say it will improve over the next year.

Despite their largely positive outlook about their economic prospects, the survey participants did not hold back from expressing their concerns about the country.

Corruption by public officials is seen as a very big problem by about half (49%), while another 34% say corruption is a moderately big problem. That said, nearly two-thirds (64%) are optimistic that corruption will get better over the next five years.

Inequality and the gap between rich and poor is seen as a very big problem for 37%, as is crime (35%), but of particular note for international brands, 42% say the safety of medicine is a very big problem, and 40% say the same about food safety.

This is significant because just 9% of Chinese consumers thought the safety of medicine was a very big problem in 2008. Similarly, strong concerns about food safety have grown from 12% in 2008 in wake of numerous, high-profile scandals.

Water pollution (37%), air pollution (34%), the quality of manufactured goods (35%) are some of the other issues that Chinese consumers consider to be a very big problem.

Data sourced from Pew Research Center; additional content by Warc staff