In this report, we explored factors related to people’s perceptions of China for a subset of 15 non-European countries. To do this, we performed a multilevel regression analysis predicting favorable views of China as a function of people’s attitudes about economic issues in their country and toward China’s influence, as well as their demographic characteristics. We used Stata’s melogit function to estimate a weighted, mixed-effect logistic model with random intercepts by country and robust standard errors. In addition to this pooled model, we evaluated the robustness of the results by estimating the model for each country separately. These country-specific models yielded similar conclusions.
Favorable views of China is the dichotomous dependent variable, where 1 denotes that someone has a favorable view (those who say they have a very or somewhat favorable opinion) and 0 an unfavorable view (those who say they have a very or somewhat unfavorable opinion). At the individual level, the independent, or predictor, variables include evaluations of the current domestic economic situation; seeing China as the leading economic power; saying China’s growing military or economy is a good thing; thinking China’s economic influence in a country is good; having positive views about foreign companies buying domestic companies or building factories in a country; saying current bilateral economic ties with China are good; and being above the country-level median (among these 15 countries) for buying Chinese exports. We also looked at demographic variables, including age and education.
Overall, we find that favorable views of China have a strong association with both generally positive orientations toward global economic commerce and more specific evaluations of China’s economic role in the world. Holding other variables constant, someone who thinks their country’s current economic ties with China are good are 21% more likely than someone who thinks they are bad to have a favorable view of China (63.5% vs. 42.2%, respectively). Likewise, a person who says they see China’s growing economy as a good thing for their country has a 64% chance of holding a generally positive opinion of China, versus just 47% who say China’s economy is bad for them. In addition to China-specific attitudes, individuals who say their own national economy is doing well are, on average, 7 percentage points more likely to express favorable views of China than those who are pessimistic about their own economy (60.8% vs. 53.4%, respectively).
Demographically, younger adults tend to be more favorable toward China, on average, than older adults. The relationship between educational attainment and views of China is relatively small, however, and not statistically significant in this case. But those who said they do not know to any questions are excluded from the model, and “don’t know” responses tend to be related to factors like education in some countries.
At the country level, trade affects views of China. Individuals from countries that score above the sample median of the log amount of Chinese exports a country buys have more negative views of their trading partner. More exports from China leads to lower probability of favorable views of China by 21%, on average.