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Indians see no China threat, says BBC poll

March 10, 2005 14:26 IST

A majority of Indians view the growing military and economic might of China positively and do not perceive it as a threat to their existence, a BBC survey says.

Despite an unresolved border dispute with their south Asian neighbour, some 66 per cent of Indians hold a positive opinion on China's economic and military growth and do not consider it as a threat, a new BBC World Service Poll (external link) has found.

The survey shows that China is viewed as having a mainly positive influence in the world by a majority or plurality of citizens in 14 of the 22 countries where the study was undertaken.

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"Particularly striking is that even in neighbouring Asian countries that have historically shown substantial suspicion of China, views are relatively benign," according to the results published by the Programme on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.

"Most notable is India where 66 per cent view China positively, despite decades of tensions and a history of border clashes," it said.

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Asked about 'Chinese influence in the world', 66 per cent of Indians replied positively while only 20 per cent expressed negative feelings. The global average on this question was only 48 per cent on the positive side and 30 per cent viewing China negatively.

Quizzed about 'China becoming more powerful economically,' 68 per cent of Indians responded positively while only 33 per cent expressed apprehension about the Chinese dragon.

Nearly 56 per cent of Indians did not view China's military modernisation as a threat when asked whether they are concerned about 'China becoming more powerful militarily', the survey results showed.

Only 27 expressed apprehensions about Beijing's growing military might.

Reassessing the Chinese threat

On an average, across all countries polled (excluding China itself), almost half (48 per cent) see China's influence as positive and just 30 per cent see it as negative, with another 22 per cent being noncommittal.

In only three countries does a plurality view Chinese influence as negative - Germany (47 per cent), US (46 per cent), and Poland (per cent). In no country did the majority of public hold a negative view of China.

Promising a better future for the Communist giant, young people (18-29) worldwide are much more prone to view China positively (58 per cent on average).

Economic power aside, most citizens around the world do not want to see Chinese military power grow.

Asked how they would feel if "China becomes significantly more powerful militarily than it is today," in 17 countries the majority responded in the negative.

The poll also found that China is viewed as playing a significantly more positive role in the world than either the US or Russia, a role more on par with Britain.

The poll of 22,953 people was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm 'GlobeScan' together with the PIPA at the University of Maryland.

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