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Knowledge brews affects: How does the understanding EU’s Internal Complexities increase EU’s image among Chinese people

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Zhengxu Wang
University of Nottingham
Open Panel

Abstract

Perception of another country or power plays an important role in a public’s preferences of foreign policies. If citizens perceive another power as friendly or even attractive, they are more likely to give consents to policies options that bring their country closer to the power in question. How a country or power can project a more positive image in another society, hence increases its soft power, however, is a complicated issue. In this study, we test the hypothesis that understanding of another country or power’s internal complexities will help brew positive perception of that country or power. In the Western societies, for example, it was found that citizens with more understanding of the social and cultural complexities of Arabic countries have largely more positive perception of Arabic countries such as Iraq or Iran. We test this with the perception of the EU and Europeans by Chinese people with a newly collected survey dataset from 3,000 citizens living in six major cities in China. We found that, after controlling other factors, the knowledge of EU and EU countries’ complexities significantly affect Chinese people’s perception of EU as a player in global affairs; at the same time, the EU plays important roles in China’s social and political development. People with more knowledge about the EU area also show more positive attitudes about Europeans, even if their personal experience of the EU or Europeans might have been negative. The study hence furthers our understanding of political and cultural psychology, and carries important implications for building international trust as well as soft power of a political actor.