Nearly 60 per cent of the Chinese think that territorial dispute between China and its neighbouring countries could lead to a military conflict, while 45 per cent see the power and influence of the US as a major threat, says a survey.
The Global Attitudes Spring 2016 survey by US-based Paw Research Center, released on Wednesday, also revealed that 77 percent of Chinese people were wary of “foreign influence” on their daily lives, while 75 percent say China is playing a more important role in world affairs than it did 10 years ago.
“Only 10 percent of the Chinese believe that they are a less powerful player in the global arena,” said the survey, conducted face-to-face between April 6 and May 8 this year, and involving 3,154 Chinese adults across the country excluding Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Macau.
Of its 14 neighbouring countries, China is yet to resolve land boundary disputes with Bhutan and India.
The border dispute between India and China dates back to 1914 when the former was under British rule. The two countries fought a war in 1962 which culminated in a ceasefire by China.
China claims a large chunk of India’s Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls as part of southern Tibet whereas India says the dispute is about Aksai Chin occupied by the Chinese in the 1962 war.
Besides land, China has maritime dispute with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia over the South China Sea. Beijing claims almost the entire sea through which trade worth $5 trillion passes annually.
In July, a UN-appointed court rejected China’s claims, backing the Philippines that had unilaterally sought arbitration over the matter. Beijing has called the ruling “illegal”.
Experts say the Sea is increasingly becoming militarised with naval patrols by various littoral countries, besides China.