A couple of interesting, although not all together surprising, opinion polls and news stories recently.
Firstly, it turns out that—and you may want to sit down for this—that Japanese and Chinese don’t like each other:
About 84% of Japanese respondents said they have a negative impression of China, a six percentage point increase from the previous year, according to an annual bilateral survey conducted by Japanese think tank Genron NPO and the state-run publication China Daily that was released Wednesday. It’s the highest percentage of negative views seen among Japanese respondents since the survey began in 2005.
Meanwhile, 64.5% of Chinese indicated that the feeling is mutual, though this figure is a slight improvement from the previous year.
I’d almost be willing to pay money to see how the Chinese results would look like if the Global Times had done the poll.
Meanwhile, to China’s north, Mongolians have to deal with large numbers of Chinese workers at a mining site. And they don’t like it:
The high Chinese profile at one of Mongolia’s most cherished emblems of national pride isn’t coming at a particularly opportune moment. In April, Ulaanbaatar reacted badly to a Chinese bid for Mongolian coal producer SouthGobi Resources Ltd. Sensitive to encroachment and playing to a nationalistic gallery, the government suspended some of SouthGobi’s mining licenses and moved to restrict foreign ownership of “strategic industries” — including mining, banking and telecommunications — to 49 percent for deals worth more than $75 million, unless parliament grants an exception.
China’s increasing economic might, and the growing presence of Chinese businessmen and workers in Mongolia – some of whom inevitably start up relationships with Mongolian women – has led to a surge of anti-Chinese sentiment in the country in recent years, particularly among young, unemployed men. Chinese people are the chief targets of an neo-Nazi movement in Ulanbataar that made headlines in 2009 after the leader of ultranationalist group Blue Mongol, known to shave the heads of Mongolian women who slept with Chinese men, was convicted of murdering his daughter’s Mongolian boyfriend, reportedly because he had studied in China.
Chinese involvement in mining operations has occasionally led to flare ups in other countries, most notably in Zambia, where Chinese managers of one mine elected to try to contain labor unrest by shooting local employees last year.
Finally, in a recent poll, Taiwanese selected Japan as their favorite country:
The Interchange Association, Japan, which represents Japan in the absence of bilateral diplomatic relations, yesterday released a survey on Taiwanese perceptions of Japan, the third of its kind since 2008.
Similar to the previous two surveys, most Taiwanese continued to list Japan as their favorite foreign country or region, with 41 percent of respondents choosing Japan, 8 percent opting for the US, 8 percent saying China and 6 percent preferring the EU, while 37 percent offered no opinions.
The survey found that 39 percent of respondents regarded China as the country or region with which Taiwan should have closer relations, followed by Japan with 29 percent of respondents, the US with 15 percent and the EU with 3 percent.
Sixteen percent of respondents did not identify a specific country.
Again, to anybody who watched the 2009 World Baseball Classic, this comes as no surprise.
Nor does it probably come as a surprise that another Northeast Asian country was nowhere to be found on the Taiwanese list. Which naturally brings us to the following question:
Why is it that the Taiwanese seem to have a stick up their ass about Korea?
Now, I’ve never been to Taiwan. I’d like to go—I’ve heard it’s a lovely place, almost every Taiwanese I’ve met has been really friendly, it’s got tons of Japanese colonial architecture for me to see and photograph, and it seems it’s quite similar to Korea in a lot of ways. Point is, I don’t really know what Taiwanese think about Koreans other than what I’ve read in the Korean press, which is not good.
Anyway, with that in mind, Kim Bong-su of the Asia Gyeongje newspaper penned a piece last month on why Taiwanese like Japan and hate Korea. Kim notes that at least as far as Korea is concerned, it wasn’t always like this—the relationship between Korea and Taiwan used to be quite close, almost a “blood alliance,” especially when Chiang Kai-shek ran Taiwan and his junior at the Japanese military academy, Park Chung-hee, ran Korea.
Everything changed in 1992. That’s when Korea rather unceremoniously cut its diplomatic relations with Taiwan to establish relations with the PRC, closing the Taiwanese embassy in Myeong-dong and handing it over—as is—to China. Taiwanese watching this on TV felt betrayed, especially considering how much aid the late Chiang had provided Park.
More recent factors have made things worse. Korea’s big corporations have pulled ahead of Taiwanese small and medium-sized corporations—previously seen as Taiwan’s strength—in the high-tech sector; with Korea’s GNP and national power surpassing that of Taiwan, Taiwanese now feel jealous of Korea. Ditto goes for the Korean Wave, which Taiwanese—who consider themselves culturally superior “continental” people—find unpleasant.
Feelings towards Japan, on the other hand, are warm. This despite the fact that Taiwan, like Korea, was ruled by Japan as a colony. The Taiwanese, however, view the colonial era very differently—namely, they see it as having prepared the base for Taiwan’s modernization.
Even when unpleasant incidents involving Japanese take place in Taiwan, they’d don’t generate general “anti-Japanese” sentiment. When Japanese entertainer Makiyo Kawashima’s yakuza boyfriend assaulted a Taipei taxi driver for having the temerity to tell him to put on his seat belt in February, the press were all over it, and the once-popular entertainer’s career in Taiwan was finished, but it did not lead to a rise in anti-Japanese sentiment. The Taiwanese government got directly involved to settle things down, and the incident was soon forgotten. A Korean in Taiwan said if it had been a Korean involved, it would have led to a big stink. Despite a yakuza being involved, it did not lead to anti-Japanese feeling, he said, and then the whole Jeremy Lin crazy hit and all was forgotten.