American public still shows questionable taste in foreign relations

When Americans were asked whether “the following countries or regions share generally common values with the U.S.” the responses went like this:

            General     Opinion
Country     public      leaders

Japan         78%         96%
Taiwan        57%         83%
China         48%         55%
North Korea   20%         14%

How in God’s name did North Korea get 20%?! Where was this poll taken, at a Workers World conference?

9 thoughts on “American public still shows questionable taste in foreign relations”

  1. What if the value in question was “enjoys a strong military and nuclear stockpile”?

    Seriously though, I think of these four choices, Taiwan is probably the most values-compatible with America. And of course, although Joe may joke, we all really know that Japan is the closest thing to a real communist country.

  2. Perhaps the guy on the street cannot tell the difference between North and South Korea? Or 20% of them anyway….

    Have any of you guys seen the Canadian program “Talking with Americans”? They managed to trick a state governor into thinking that Canada’s government assembly building is a giant igloo…. I’ve also heard of an Australian show where they showed people a map with Australia marked as North Korea and New Zealand marked as South Korea and quite a few people didn’t get the joke….

  3. M-Bone got to it first. I was going to say “they were thinking of North Dakota“….

    Frankly, I’m much more surprised by the near-half China got with both groups.

  4. I’m not that surprised by the China numbers. A lot of economist-types are big on China and the potential for cooperation. As for the average Joe, I’ve read something interesting in the past — there is a theory that many Americans have a very favorable view of China because many Americans know a very nice Chinese-American. This may cause some people to look past the very obvious ideological differences and the anti-American rhetoric that comes out of China (or they may not know about that stuff in the first place).

  5. And they also don’t realize that their Chinese American friend is most likely from either Taiwan or Hong Kong…

  6. Indeed. I’m Canadian and had several “Chinese” friends growing up — all from Taiwan or Hong Kong.

    Still, with China, I see an approx. 50% number as a positive. It is an indication that there are many people who see the potential for engagement and cooperation and just as many who are cautious. At the very least, this should result in some reasoned debate in America over how to deal with China.

  7. I’d like to see these numbers separated into some categories. For example, Americans who have been abroad, Americans who have been to foreign countries where the primary language is not English, etc.

  8. Some more statistical breakdown would be nice. I think that it is safe to say that some of the people who responded have a rather narrow world view — judging countries on the basis of individuals that they know or movies that they have seen, etc.

  9. Well, to be dreadfully cynical and possibly left-wing about it, perhaps that 20% felt that the “common value” both Nork and the US had in common was something along the lines of “desire to dominate”, “importance of military”, or “not questioning the leader”. More seriously and less sarcastically, before we can make any sense of those numbers, we need to know what “common values” we are talking about. And yeah, I’d bet a lot of money that 20% of Americans couldn’t tell North Korea from South Korea. In fact why wasn’t South Korea there anyway? The poll was conducted by Gallup, but who paid for it? MOFA? The “Perceptions of Japan” just under the chart in question looks like it came straight out of Yokoso Japan’s PR site.

    The US has always seemed to generally like China for some reason. Aside from a dodgy bit after 1949, that is. Perhaps (and this is only ‘perhaps’) it was seen as the more passive Orient in comparison to the dangerously-successful Japan of the late Meiji era, which dared to take on a Western country in war, and even worse, win (even if Russia wasn’t able to fight at full strength). Why would Japan be a point above the UK though? Perhaps this survey was conducted at an Anime Con somewhere….

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