The growing India-China rivalry is taking a toll on Chinese public opinion as less than 30 per cent view India favourably while nearly 60 per cent apprehend territorial disputes with neighbouring countries could lead to a “military conflict”, according to a latest survey.
Just 26 per cent hold a favourable view of India, with whom China has had numerous territorial disputes for more than a half century, the latest survey by US-based Pew Research Centre found.
Besides the border dispute, Chinese official media also has been constantly highlighting the growing rivalry between the two Asian giants especially in the backdrop of Indian economy posting higher growth rates amid the economic slowdown in China as well as growing India-US relations.
While India has a border dispute with China over the latter’s claims on Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin area annexed in 1962, Beijing is involved in maritime disputes with a host of neighbours regarding the South China Sea and with Japan over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.
On the land borders, India along with Bhutan are the only two countries among the 14 with which China is yet to settle the boundary dispute.
Chinese public opinion about India is better compared to Japan as only 14 per cent voiced favourable opinion, which nosedived from 63 per cent in 2006.
However, despite China’s close alliance with North Korea, 55 per cent of Chinese viewed South Korea favourably.
“Chinese views of some of their neighbours may also reflect public worries about potential conflicts with those nations. Nearly six-in-ten Chinese (59 per cent) are concerned that territorial conflicts between China and neighbouring countries could lead to military conflict.
“Such sentiment is largely unchanged from 2014,” the survey said.
For the Chinese, America remained a major concern as 45 per cent see US power and influence as posing a major threat to their country. Such concern is up from 39 per cent in 2013.
The second-highest international concern of the Chinese is global economic instability as 35 per cent see it as a major threat.
Chinese exports have slowed in recent years as the world economy has decelerated, which may give rise to such worry. On the domestic front, roughly 49 per cent Chinese public said corrupt officials are a very big problem in the country, while another 34 per cent believe they are a moderately big issue, according to the survey.
Inequality is also a top worry for China as gap between the rich and the poor increased in the communist nation.
Thirty-seven per cent consider the growing gap between rich and poor a very big problem, and 40 per cent believe it is a moderately big problem.
As China, the world’s second largest economy, expanded its influence in the world, it also caused degree of anxiety among the Chinese.