Sun, November 23, 2008
China > Mainland

Survey: Foreigners like China better after Olympics, but criticisms remain

2008-11-23 15:01:09 GMT2008-11-23 23:01:09 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Xinhua writers Bai Ying and Wang Aihua

BEIJING, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- A survey organized by the Communication University of China (CUC) in Beijing shows that foreigners like China better after the Beijing Olympics, but still hold negative opinions about some of the Chinese people's behavior.

A total of 2,400 foreigners took part in the survey through either face-to-face interview or online questionnaire from July 23to Sept. 9 before, during and after the Olympics were held, said professor Ke Huixin of the CUC earlier this week at the Asia Communication and Media Forum in Beijing.

Online survey was carried out among citizens in the United States, Britain and Singapore, according to Ke. Face-to-face interviews covered foreigners from Europe, America and Asia who were staying in Beijing during the Olympics.

The company Survey Sampling International's Beijing office was in charge of the online survey, said Ke. Face-to-face interviews were done by the company CSM, a joint venture between China Central Television (CCTV) and the Taylor Nelson Sofres Gruppe (TNS), a leading market research group listed on the London Stock Exchange.

The survey was designed using the format of a typical five-level Likert items, the most widely used psychometric method in questionnaires developed by American educator and organizational psychologist Rensis Likert.

When responding to a Likert questionnaire item, respondents specify their level of agreement to a statement, namely, "strongly agree", "agree", "disagree", "strongly disagree", "don't know" or "not sure".

Statements on China's politics, culture and economy, of the Chinese people and the city of Beijing, such as "I think the Chinese people always keep their promises", "Most of the stuff I buy is made in China", "I love Chinese food", "In China, people enjoy religious freedom" were used in the survey.

The answers were transferred into figures which reflected the degree of affection toward China. The higher the figures are, the better the images of China and the Chinese people are.

According to the survey, foreigners' general impressions of China were better after the Olympics, whether they came to the Games or not.

China's economic image in their eyes rose from 3.1 to 3.2; cultural image rose from 3.0 to slightly higher; political image remained the same, at 2.6; image of the Beijing city rose from 3.0to 3.1.

Those interviewed got to know China by watching the Olympic Games, touring around China, making friends with the Chinese, watching Chinese films, using goods made here, eating in Chinese restaurants and so on.

But, criticisms still existed, showed the survey. The image of the Chinese people remained the same at 2.8 after the Olympics.

The interviewees who had traveled more to China gave lower ratings for Chinese people's friendliness, enthusiasm toward work and their ability to keep promises than those who have only limited travel experience.

"This is very surprising," Ke said, "and it is also beyond my expectation that they are less critical about littering after more contact with the people and the culture." He didn't elaborate any further.

The survey found that foreigners who were staying in Beijing during the Olympics had more positive impressions of China than those who were not.

According to Ke, this was because they had more chances to be in direct contact with Chinese society.

The survey also showed that foreigners' knowledge about China was still at a low level.

"For example, when asked who is the President of China now, even those who were staying in Beijing at the time didn't know it was Hu Jintao. Only 40 percent of them gave the right answer," Ke said.

Ashley Esarey, of the Fairbank Center of Chinese Studies at Harvard University, agreed at the forum that the Olympics did change the way most people look at China.

Before the Games, some Americans were against China because of human rights and environmental issues, according to Esarey. "But many people's perspectives changed during the Olympics. They were astonished at how well the Olympic Games were organized, and showed more interest in China," he said, adding that the number of supporters for the Beijing Games increased afterwards by 10 percent over the figure before the Games was held.

Jeff Ruffolo, senior consultant at the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, compared the Beijing Olympics to "the summer of love".

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