Friday, January 15, 2021

The image of China is “negative” in France, on the right and on the left

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The coronavirus epidemic, human rights abuses and misused technological power are helping to make China the second worst-perceived country in France, behind North Korea and ahead of Russia, with 62% of respondents expressing a negative or very negative feeling towards this country, and only 16% having a positive perception. These figures, published on November 24 by the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), are taken from the results for France of a vast survey on the image of China conducted between September and October in thirteen European countries (including Russia) by a group of researchers at the initiative of Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic.

This negative sentiment towards China is largely consensual and cross-partisan in France: between 58% and 69% of those polled, among the voters of the six main political parties, perceive China in such a way. “Very negative, or negative”. People affiliated with Europe Ecologie-Les Verts are in the lead for the accumulation of perceptions “Negative and very negative”. Republicans are the only ones with a positive opinion of China reaching 23% of respondents.

Cyber ​​security on the front line

Overall, the image of China has deteriorated for 53% of French people surveyed over the past three years. Consulted on what they would like to constitute the priorities of their government vis-à-vis Beijing, the French put cybersecurity issues first. Advancing human rights and democracy in China comes third, behind the “Cooperation on global issues such as epidemics and climate change”, one of the antiphons of the official speech of the French government vis-à-vis China.

“French public opinion is, with regard to China, much more sensitive to political aspects than economic ones. The first terms that come to the minds of those polled, apart from Covid-19, are “dictatorship” and “authoritarian”. The French rank China last among trusted states and entities [derrière l’UE, les Etats-Unis et la Russie], and consider it as the last of the partners to build a 5G infrastructure [derrière la Corée du Sud, les Etats-Unis, le Japon et l’UE]. Trade and investment issues are of little concern ”, analysis Marc Julienne, from IFRI, one of the researchers of the collective who worked on the study.

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