This is not meant so much to be an “editorial” post as a set of notes for future reference purposes, although it is hoped that my readers may find them useful as well.
Summary of a couple of FOM polls of Russians on China:
(1) As of 2015, some 55% of Russians think Russia is closer to Europe than to Asia, while 18% think it is the converse.
This largely invalidates the Eurasianist interpretation. Russia and “Europe” may have worse relations than Russia and “Asia”, but that is immaterial. After all, the Gaelic tribes were more hostile to each other than to English colonists.
(2) Russians think China is a friendly country.
By 62% to 16% who think it is unfriendly towards Russia.
(3) Sinophilia rises monotonically as Russians get younger.
Percentage considering China to be friendly by age group: 18-30 – 71%; 31-45 – 58%; 46-60 – 61%; 60+ – 58%. I suspect older people were more affected by the Sinophobic campaigns of the Sino-Soviet split.
Other observations from the 2018 poll:
- There are no significant regional differences in Sinophobia/Sinophilia, even in regions that one might expect to be “interesting” in this respect (e.g. Siberia).
- Sinophilia rises with income. From 57% amongst those with 8,000-12,000 rubles per month to 70% amongst those with more than 30,000 rubles per month. Young Russians with higher education are at 74%.
- Men are more Sinophile than women, at 66% to 59%. But Sinophobia is similar, at 17% and 16%, respectively.
- 68% vs. 18% of Russians think China is developing more successfully than Russian.
- 57% to 25% of Russians think Russia has more influence in the world.
- 57% to 22% think there are major differences in culture and values between Russians and Chinese.
- 12% of Russians are more interested in Chinese culture, while 35% are more interested in the culture of European countries. There are no major socio-demographic variations.
- 32% of Russians have had contacts with Chinese, versus 68% who did not. Predictably, there was greater exposure amongst younger, male, richer, higher educated Russians.
And from the 2015 poll:
- Ironically, the people who consider Russian civilization to be closer to Asia than to Europe give modestly more “Sinophobic” answers.
- 27% to 54% of Russians think China’s increasing power threatens Russian interests. Threat perceptions are broadly the same across age groups, but relatively more richer and more educated Russians think China’s rise *does* present a greater threat to Russia. (I.e., one rare point on which they are more “Sinophobe”).
- 32% to 19% of Russians think it is more important for Russia to develop economic and political relations with China as opposed to the West. Here, the relative preference for the China vector is greater amongst men; remains constant across age groups and education level; and strongly increases with wealth (32% China and 17% West amongst those with 8,000-12,000 rubles per month; 44% China to 12% West amongst those with more than 30,000 rubles per month).
Some other notes:
(4) Russian views on China have consistently been 60%-70% positive during the Putin era.
(5) I can’t find a Chinese poll on Russia attitudes as of right now, but I have seen quite a few of them over the years, and they broadly show that Chinese attitudes towards Russia are reciprocal, i.e. around 60%-70% positive.
E.g., Chinese net approval of Putin at 55% (should be adjusted upwards because this is measuring net approval, not gross approval; and because countries tend to be more popular than their leaders).
However, what I have yet to see is a Chinese poll on Russia where it is broken down by age, region, wealth, education, and other interesting socio-demographic factors. My guess:
- Equal Russophilia across age groups – Commenter AquariusAnon tells me that elderly maozuo are more Russophile, but this would probably be counteracted by young people tending to be more xenophile in general.
- More Russophilia in Beijing, less Russophilia in Shanghai. See AquariusAnon on the Chinese Regions.
- More Russophilia amongst the poorer and less well educated, at least relative to Americanophilia (this, at least, is the typical pattern amongst Western countries). That said, it is quite possible that this has changed in the past year as Sino-American relations have plummeted.
But do let me know if more concrete data is available.