Business is business : how trade relationship fails to boost image of China

Huhe, Narisong and Tang, Min (2020) Business is business : how trade relationship fails to boost image of China. Journal of Contemporary China. ISSN 1067-0564 (In Press)

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In this study, we explore how China’s increased economic influence shapes its image among foreign audiences. Specifically, we examine the effect of a country’s trade relationship with China on its citizens’ perception of China. A systematic analysis of the data from recent three waves of the Asia Barometer Survey (ABS) consistently show that, at the country-level, trade exposure to China is associated with a less favorable public view of China. At the individual level, we further find that trade exposure weakens the positive relationship between individuals’ assessment of domestic economic situation and their perception of China. Meanwhile, political factors such as individuals’ democratic orientation and the regime difference correlate with a negative image of China, and trade relationship cannot mitigate this “soft power deficit.” In short, trade relationship does not help promote a positive image of China.