BEIJING, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- A joint survey conducted by Chinese and U.S. institutions revealed that people in the two countries believe China and the United States can be rivals and partners at the same time.
Only a small number of respondents -- no more than 15 percent on either side -- said the two sides are enemies, according to a report in Thursday's overseas edition of the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China.
Many Chinese people blamed U.S. arms sales to Taiwan as a major reason for tensions in bilateral relations.
The survey, jointly conducted by Beijing-based China Strategic Culture Promotion Association (CSCPA) and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, polled both the general public and "elite groups" in the two countries.
The "elite groups" included five categories: figures in political, commercial, academic, military and media circles.
Respondents in the two countries showed a low level of trust toward each other -- lower than the trust they felt toward other countries. However, most said they believe China-U.S. relations remain "fine," the newspaper report quoted Luo Yuan, a Chinese expert on international affairs and CSCPA vice president, as saying.
Both sides think the China-U.S. relationship is one of rivals and also partners, or somewhere between the two, while only a small portion of respondents said the two sides are enemies, it said.
The survey revealed that the younger generation of Americans showed more trust toward China than the older generation, but noted that the trust of the country's entrepreneurs, a group with great weight in the countries' bilateral ties, has declined over the past five years.
The survey explained that the decline may partly be due to Americans' fear that market barriers set by the Chinese government will grant unfair advantages to Chinese businesses. Another reason for the decline may be pressure from Chinese enterprises' ambitions to enter upstream industries, a more lucrative market previously dominated by Western companies.
According to the survey, the two sides did not see eye to eye on the role the two countries are playing and should play on the international stage.
Most Americans surveyed said they think the United States has taken other countries' interests into account when deciding its foreign policy, but said the Chinese will not do so. The Chinese respondents gave an opposite opinion: China has been considerate in its foreign policy, and the United States has not.
A majority of Americans in the "elite group" said a world led by the U.S. will be more stable, while Chinese elites advocate balanced power to maintain stability.
This discrepancy, the newspaper said, may constitute a serious challenge to China-U.S. ties, especially when it comes to issues in the western Pacific, where China is rapidly increasing its presence.
According to the survey, most Chinese respondents from both "public" and "elite" categories regard the United States as a major threat to China. However, Americans believe "international financial turbulence," "Islamic extremism" and the "nuclear programs by Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" are more dangerous than a rising China.
The newspaper said one result that surprised many Chinese experts was that although 56 percent of the U.S. public supported a hardline policy in trade with China, the trade issue was not on the priority list of most American elites. Instead, most American business elites and veterans identified Internet attacks, allegedly from China, and intellectual property rights problems as their biggest concerns regarding China.
Meanwhile, Chinese respondents also worried that the United States, which plays a leading role in the Internet realm, might take destructive measures against China's infrastructure if the two countries were to be involved in a conflict, the report said.
Chinese people also see U.S. arms sales to Taiwan as a major reason leading to tensions between the two countries. This blame is stronger among Chinese officials, according to the survey.
"It is important to recognize the other side's crucial interests, because although there are still some implacable issues, the two sides may know each other's 'bottom line' and respect it," the report quoted Shi Yinhong, a Chinese international affairs expert, as saying.
The survey was carried out in China and the United States, with 1,004 adults and 305 members of "elite groups" in the United States, and 2,597 adults and 358 elite members in China polled.