A majority of those polled distrust Washington, and view Russia favorably
Some 80% of the Chinese population think the US and Western countries are ultimately responsible for the conflict in Ukraine, according to a new study. Less than 10% blame Russia for starting the offensive.
Published on Wednesday by the Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University, the survey found that 80.1% of respondents blame the conflict on the "US and Western countries," while 11.7% blame Ukraine, and 8.2% hold Russia responsible.
Some 34.1% identified the "impact of the war on civilian life" as the most important issue arising from the conflict, while 20.9% named the safety of Chinese people and their economic interests in Ukraine, and 15.6% pointed to the "impact on the global energy supply."
A majority of Chinese people distrust Washington, the poll found, with 59.1% holding a "very unfavorable" or "somewhat unfavorable" opinion of the US. Just 7.8% hold the same view of Russia, with 58.4% viewing their neighbor "somewhat," or "very" favorably.
The Chinese government has taken a neutral stance on Ukraine, with Beijing rebuffing calls from Washington to condemn or sanction Moscow over the conflict. Official statements from the Chinese foreign ministry have identified the eastward expansion of NATO as a key cause of hostilities, while Chinese officials have condemned the US and its allies for continuing to pour weapons into Ukraine without seeking a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.
Meanwhile, China has positioned itself as a potential peacemaker, releasing its 12-point 'Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis' in February. This peace plan was welcomed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, but received a lukewarm reception in Kiev and was rejected out of hand by the US and EU.
Relations between Beijing and Washington are currently strained, with US President Joe Biden slapping restrictions on China's semiconductor industry and stating several times over the last year that he would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan. Accordingly, 83% of respondents to the Tsinghua University poll believe that the US exerts the greatest influence on China's security. Nevertheless, nearly 50% said that they expect relations between the two superpowers to improve in the next five years.
Taken in November 2022, the Tsinghua University survey sampled 2,622 mainland Chinese citizens over 18 years old, evenly split between male and female.