Public in both China and US believes bilateral relationship is crucial and want ties to be closer
Two recent surveys highlight positive attitudes that seem to be at odds with the often-strained China-US relationship. A majority of those interviewed said that the relationship is crucial to both countries. They also want greater cooperation, especially in economic and energy issues.
The surveys were commissioned at the end of 2011 by China Daily with Gallup in Washington and Horizon Research Group in Beijing. China Daily released the results on Thursday, days before Vice-President Xi Jinping's trip to the US. His visit, which begins on Monday, is widely expected to improve ties in what will be a turbulent US election year.
The data generated by the surveys, including opinions on US-China relations and perceived barriers to building stronger ties, was drawn from a wide range of people, including members of the general public and opinion leaders in the two countries.
The China Daily-Gallup survey covered 2,007 members of the general public and 250 opinion leaders in the US. Seven in 10 US respondents said strong relations between the US and China are "somewhat" or "very" important.
Opinion leaders were even more emphatic, as 85 percent said strong relations between the two countries are important.
It also showed that Americans tend to want more bilateral cooperation, especially with economic and energy issues, in addition to cultural, educational, scientific, political and diplomatic cooperation.
Similar results were found in the China Daily-Horizon survey, which polled residents from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu, Shenyang and Xi'an, most of which host US embassy or consulates.
More than 90 percent of the Chinese public, regardless of their location, has believed for many years in a row that the Sino-US relationship is important, according to the survey.
In 2011, about half believed the relationship was "very" important, a 20 percent increase from a similar survey by Horizon in 2009.
Nearly 60 percent of Chinese respondents think the bilateral relationship will remain stable in general, and nearly one-fourth believe it will improve.
Yet Chinese citizens' favorability for the US declined in the past two years from the highest level reached between 2006 and 2009, according to Horizon's data in the last decade.
The survey shows "the hegemony by the US on other countries" has become a major factor that affects Chinese citizens' impression toward the US.
About 42 percent of Chinese respondents said the US war on terror, even after Osama bin Laden was killed in May 2011, made their impression of the US worse. That is an increase of nearly 8 percent from the result in 2007 in the midst of the war.
Around 63 percent of respondents said their impression of the US has worsened because of the US intervention in Libya and stance on Syria.