More people from around the world now have a positive opinion about China, although China's Asian neighbours view the United States more favourably, a survey has found.
A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in the US polled 45,435 respondents in 40 countries. The survey found that a median of 55 per cent across those nations have a favourable opinion of China.
"Ratings for China have risen slightly across the 35 countries surveyed in both 2014 and 2015. A median of 49 per cent had a positive view of China across these countries in 2014, but in 2015, it is 54 per cent" in those 35 countries, it said.
Frequent non-governmental exchanges between China and other countries in recent years have contributed to the rise of China's image across the world, said Wang Huiyao, director of the Center of China and Globalization, a Beijing think tank.
Wang said more than 100 million Chinese people went abroad last year to travel, shop or study. The face-to-face contact gave people in other countries opportunities to get to know real Chinese people, whom in the past they could see only on TV or read about in newspapers.
The survey found that in 18 of the countries surveyed, younger people have a more favourable view toward China than their elders. The trend was most pronounced in the US, where 55 per cent of young Americans (18 to 29 years old) had a favourable view of China, while among those 50 and older, it was only 27 per cent.
"Compared with older people, the young have more opportunities to visit China and come into contact with Chinese people on different occasions," Wang said.
The survey also found that Africa and Latin America exhibited favourable views toward China, but that in the country's own backyard in Asia, opinions were divergent.
Yang Mian, a professor at Communication University of China, said, "Some of the Asian countries surveyed had or are having territorial disputes with China. It's understandable that people of these countries tend to hold opinions that are not so positive toward China".