How Asians View A Rising China

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How East Asians View A Rising China: Implications for Taiwan

Yun-han Chu

Nottingham, March 11, 2014 1

Competition over Soft Power

   Entering the 21st century more countries are increasingly placing the emphasis on the projection of benign country images. Such projections are critical not only for building partnerships for strengthening economic cooperation and addressing mutual security concerns but also for gaining access to new markets. The ancient Chinese thinkers had also long upheld the motto of "making the people near-by satisfied and the people from afar to join you" (近悅遠來) as the guiding principle of engaging other peoples. However, it is only in the recent decade that the concept of "soft power" -- ability to produce outcomes through persuasion and attraction rather than coercion or payment -- has entered into the lexicons of Chinese policy makers .

China’s Effort of National Image Management

 Over the recent decade, Chinese policy elite has increasingly recognized that for a rising power like China soft power and national image management are essential aspects of its foreign policy agenda.  Hu Jingtao in his official address told the 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party that China needed to enhance “the soft power of its culture.” 3

China’s Charm Offense

Over the last decade Chinese government has invested billions of dollars to cultivate and upgrade its soft power resources.  Confucius Institutes around the world  A 24-hour CCTV Cable News Channel  The 2008 Beijing Olympics  The 2010 Shanghai Expo  Boao Forum for Asia 4

Growing Popular Awareness

    There has been growing interest among ordinary citizens throughout Asia in developments in China. China-related topics top Asian agendas and fill television programs and newspaper pages. Most Asian people were tremendously impressed by China's miraculous economic growth and amazed by the fact that economy in the world.

China’s GDP has passed Japan in 2010 and now ranks the second largest In particular, China suddenly emerged as the buyer of the last resort after the 2008-09 sub prime loans crisis and the ensuing global financial crisis.

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How China Is Perceived By Asians?

 It is important to look at the story at the receivers’ side as Joe Nye correctly pointed out that soft power depends on willing interpreters and receivers.  While Asian people have increasingly been reckoned with the China’s political and economic might, they are not necessarily persuaded by its stated foreign policy objectives and strategic intention, and much less attracted by its political system.

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Very Little Empirical Data

 Pew Global Attitudes Survey is the only cross national survey that collects public opinion data on people's image about China on regular basis. However, the Pew Survey has so far covered only a few East Asian countries and in its recent survey of 2012 only Japan and China  A recent BBC Global Scan poll on how the China's influence in the world is viewed by other countries also only covered China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.

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Asian Barometer Survey

 The Asian Barometer Survey fills up an important void in our understanding of the phenomenon of China’s rise and its implications for policy makers.

  It was administered in thirteen East Asian countries and territories on the basis of country wide probability sampling and face-to-face interview.

It can answer to what extend China’s growing economic influence and international stature might have been translated into greater soft power.

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www.asianbarometer.org

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Taiwan Country Philippines Mongolia Singapore Vietnam Thailand Korea Indonesia Mainland China Malaysia Japan Cambodia Hong Kong Asian Barometer Third Wave Survey Schedule Period January-February 2010 Mar ch 2010 April -May 2010 April-August 2010 September-October 2010 August-December 2010 May 2011 May 2011 July-October 2011 October-November 2011 December 2011 February-March 2012 September 2012 Sample Size 1592 1200 1210 1000 1191 1512 1207 1550 3473 1214 1880 1200 1103

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Table 1.

Which country has the most influence in Asia now?

Country Vietnam Taiwan Mongolia Japan Singapore Korea China Thailand Malaysia Cambodia Indonesia Philippines Southeast Asia ’ s Average China 69% 67% 66% 61% 60% 56% 44% 42% 36% 26% 23% 17% 39% United States 16% 21% 13% 29% 28% 32% 25% 44% 44% 58% 41% 66% 42% East Asia ’ s Average 47% 35%

Data source: ABS Wave III (2010-2012) 11

Table 2.

Which country will have the most influence in ten years?

Country Korea Taiwan Singapore Mongolia Vietnam Japan China Thailand Malaysia Cambodia Indonesia Philippines Southeast Asia ’ s Average East Asia ’ s Average China 83% 82% 73% 71% 70% 65% 59% 56% 44% 43% 31% 17% 48% 58% United States 9% 10% 13% 9% 16% 13% 11% 31% 26% 34% 33% 65% 31% 22%

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13

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Figure 3: Positive Imange of China: Comparing Different Surveys 120 100 97 95 95 97 95 94 86 80 67 60 53 63 51 48 58 59 58 40 20 19 10 33 14 26 41 26 38 34 15 0 ABS 2010 12 BBC 2012 Pew 2008 Pew 2009 Pew 2010 Pew 2011 Pew 2012 Japan Korea Indonesia China 15

Three Competing Explanations

 Geopolitical and Security Consideration  Military threat  Territorial dispute  Competition over scare resources  Economic Consideration:  Opportunity vs. Challenge  Compatible vs. Competitive  Interdependence vs. Dependency  Ideological and Cultural Consideration  Convergence vs. divergence over core values  Cultural affinity vs. cultural distance 16

Democratic Distance

4.000

3.500

3.000

2.500

2.000

1.500

1.000

.500

.000

.000

Japan Taiwan Korea Malaysia Singapore Cambodia Mongolia Thailand Indonesia .100

.200

.300

.400

.500

.600

Proportion of Positive View of China .700

Philippines China .800

.900

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Cultural Distance .150

.100

.050

.000

-.050

-.100

-.150

-.200

-.250

.000

.100

Mongolia Japan Korea Indonesia China Cambodia Singapore Philippines Malaysia .200

.300

.400

.500

.600

Proportion of Positive View of China .700

.800

.900

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Economic Evaluation

.800

.700

.600

.500

.400

.300

.200

.100

.000

-.100

.000

.100

China Singapore Malaysia Cambodia Philippines Indonesia .200

Taiwan Thailand Mongolia Japan .300

.400

Korea .500

.600

Positive Perception of China's Influence .700

.800

.900

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Support for Economic Openness

5.500

5.000

4.500

Japan Taiwan Korea Philippines China Singapore 4.000

3.500

3.000

.000

Malaysia Vietnam Indonesia Cambodia Mongolia Thailand .100

.200

.300

.400

.500

.600

Positive Perception of China's Influence on the Region .700

.800

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Table 3: Correlation Analysis Rubric of Cultural Explanation 1. Perceived Democratic Distance 2. Social Traditionalism 3. Liberal Democratic Values 4. Support for Democracy Rubric of Economic Explanation 1. Support for Economic Openness 2. Evaluating Country's Economic Condition 3. Subjective Household Income 4. Currently Employed Social Background 1. Age 2. Education

Viewing China's Impact on the Region as Positive Viewing China's Influence on Our Country as Positive

-.149

** .137

** -.106

** .029

** -.180

** .177

** -.184

** .028

** .087

-.021

-.055

** .238

** .075

** .048

** * ** .049

** .305

** .066

** .043

** -.020

-.117

* **

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Economic Explanation

   At the individual level, the most important variable predicating a respondent’s view on the rise of China is his/her assessment of the overall economic condition. People who give an upbeat assessment of the overall economy are more likely to view China as a benign superpower and consider its influence as largely positive.

People who are unhappy with the overall economy tend to view China’s rise in a negative way. In a sense, people tend to blame China for their country's economic malaise.

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Political Values Matter As Well

  East Asians’ view on China’s rise is also driven by one’s political perception and beliefs. People who think that their country’s level of democratic level is significantly more advanced than that of China tend to view China’s rise in a negative way.  People who are less conscious of the difference in political system between China and their own country are more likely to consider China as a benign superpower and evaluate China’s influence in a positive way.

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Conclusion: Widespread Recognition of China’s Rise

 The rise of China has been recognized by the great majority of East Asians.  Its growing influence in the region is more intensively felt by countries that are geographically or culturally proximate to China.  At the same time, there is the phenomenon of “too close for comfort”.

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Southeast Asians are more susceptible to China’s charm offense.

  Southeast Asians generally speaking hold a more sanguine view about the rise of China as their attitudes toward China are driven more by economic consideration and less by security concern or ideological distance. In a sense, At the same time, the risk and benefit brought about by expanding economic ties with China has distributed very unevenly in many East Asian countries and thus created polarized views over the nature of China’s impact especially in the Northeast Asia countries where laborers, farmers and office workers feel the economic squeeze more strongly.

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Policy Implications

    The empirical findings we presented above are largely compatible with the long-running policy pursued by a great majority of East Asian countries. Contrary to the theoretical prediction of the neorealists, most of them avoid pursuing either a balancing or bandwagoning strategy. In the face of the intensified strategic competition between China and the United States, most of them avoid having to choose one side at the obvious expense of the other. Whenever possible they opt for maximizing benefits from deepening economic ties with China while maintaining a close security relation with the United States for hedging potential risks. 26

Implications for Taiwan

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Partisanship and Predicting which country will be most influential in Asia in 10 years

90,0 80,0 70,0 60,0 50,0 40,0 30,0 20,0 10,0 ,0

80,6 7,8 5,7 5,9

pan-blue

70,3 11,3 11,8 6,6

pan-green

69,2 7,8 6,1 16,8

nonpartisan

1 China 2 USA 3 Others 9 missing

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Partisanship and View on How Much Influence Does China Have on our Country (Taiwan Asian Barometer Survey, 2010)

40,0 30,0 20,0 10,0 0,0 70,0 60,0 50,0 pan-blue pan-green nonpartisan A great deal of influence Some influence Not much influence No influence at all 29

Partisanship and View on the Nature of Mainland China's Impact on Taiwan (Source: ABS Taiwan 2010)

35,0 30,0 25,0 20,0 15,0 10,0 5,0 ,0

pan-blue pan-green nonpartisan Very positive Positive Somewhat positive Somewhat negative Negative Very negative

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Level of Education and View on Mainland China's Impact on Taiwan

30,0 25,0 20,0 15,0 10,0 5,0 ,0

Elementary Secondary College Very positive Positive Somewhat positive Somewhat negative Negative Very negative

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Age and View on Mainland China's Imapct on Taiwan (source: ABS Taiwan 2010)

10,0 5,0 ,0 35,0 30,0 25,0 20,0 15,0

20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 over 60

Very positive Positive Somewhat positive Somewhat negative Negative Very negative 32

The Challenges Facing Taiwan

 The island has become increasingly dependent on mainland China economically and susceptible to its political influence.  A rising China poses both risks and opportunities to Taiwan.  Taiwanese people are still divided over the risks and benefits arising from the cross-Strait economic integration especially along the partisan line.

 It is difficult for the Ma Ying-jeou government to fully unlock the peace dividends without a strong popular backing. It is a catch-22 situation.

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The Strategic Rivalry between U.S. and China

Taiwan is trailing way behind its major competitors, in particular South Korea, over expanding its network of free trade agreements.

China holds the key to Taiwan’s entrance into regional free trade pact (RCEP) Taipei faces a tougher challenge as Washington's recent "pivot" to Asia heightens the strategic competition between the US and China It remains to be seen whether Taipei will soon reach a strategic crossroads where it will become increasingly difficult to maintain its close economic and security ties with the US while deepening its cooperative relationship with Beijing.

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