Feeling good about themselves

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You don’t have to be in China long to feel the sense of energy and optimism that pervades this country, as it steams into the 21st century at economic growth rates others can only dream about.

More evidence of just how good most Chinese citizens feel about their country came in a poll released this week showing that a whopping 86 percent of them are satisfied with their nation’s direction. That puts China at the top of the world’s “national mood” table according to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey of 24 countries.

And they are just as upbeat about the Olympics. 96 percent of them expect the games to be a success, and 93 percent of them think the event will boost China’s international image, the poll says.

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But there are a few less positive findings: only about 6 Chinese in 10 are satisfied with their own jobs and their income – which puts them below the international average. Three quarters of them said that inflation is a “very big” concern.

That’s not surprising. Food prices have been going up by around 20 percent, year on year, for the past few months.

That worries Chinese. More worrying to outsiders is that most Chinese view other world powers, and foreigners in general, with deep suspicion.

More than two thirds of them view Japan negatively, for example, and 38 percent say Tokyo is an enemy. That has a lot to do with the way Chinese textbooks and television continue to portray the Japanese – who occupied parts of China in the 1930s and 40s – as wicked.

But 34 percent of the respondents also see the US as an enemy, which doesn’t bode too well for what is likely to be one of the world’s most important international relationships for the foreseeable future.

The level of expectations surrounding the Games could be a double-edged sword for the Chinese government, too. If things don’t go so well, for whatever reason, the public might be upset.

If that happens, though, the Chinese media’s track record suggests that they will blame foreigners for the disappointment, and most Chinese will probably follow suit.

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