How Elite Chinese Students View Other Countries: Findings from a Survey in Three Top Beijing Universities

Min Zhou


This study examines Chinese university students’ feelings towards foreign countries, using original high-quality survey data collected in 2014 at three top universities in Beijing. First, elite Chinese students’ perceptions of specific countries are revealed. Being from top universities, these individuals will have great influence on China’s future politics and international relations. It is thus important to gauge their perceptions of other countries. They generally feel warmly towards the European Union, Russia, and the United States, but harbour cold feelings towards Northeast Asian neighbours (Japan and the two Koreas). Second, this study finds that the effects of the socio-demographic and political factors underlying students’ feelings differ greatly from country to country. I construct various social profiles of the students (dis)liking particular countries. Third, this study establishes a connection between nationalism and feelings towards particular countries. Chinese nationalism is not equally targeted at all other countries. While it elevates animosity mainly against Japan and the US, it promotes a closer rapport with North Korea and Russia.

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