According to Horizon Research Consultancy Group surveys on Sino-US relations over the past decade, Chinese people basically recognise that the United States is an advanced society and civilization, and offers a high-quality life. They have also shown relatively high interest in American culture, and marrying Americans.Emotionally, Chinese people's favorable attitude toward the US since 2006 has been above the 50 percent level, which is roughly the same that Americans have toward China.Economically, Chinese people see the US as China's most important partner, and an important tourist destination, commodity supplier and source of multinational management experience. So we can assume the favorable attitude of both peoples toward each other can ensure the continuity of the basic pattern of Sino-US relations. The only question is: Will there be more competition or more cooperation?In terms of overall cooperation, however, there is a great cognitive difference in public opinion in the two countries, which is difficult to overcome in the short term. The Chinese pay more attention to politics in international relations, such as US arms sales to Taiwan, the Tibet issue, human rights, the Diaoyu Islands dispute and other issues, because Washington's political actions have a major influence (40 percent) in shaping their views toward the US.The Barack Obama administration's strategic rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region since 2011 broke the decade-old relative calm in the region. And though the US has repeatedly said it has no intention of containing China, many of its diplomatic and military actions have made Chinese people feel threatened.In contrast, survey results of US-based Pew Research and Gallup show that Americans are more concerned about economic issues, such as the impact of Sino-US trade ties on the American job market and their quality of life. It is thus likely for Americans to misunderstand why the US economy has been sluggish with a high jobless rate and resent the rise of China.Chinese people, on the other hand, have begun to see Sino-US differences and economic frictions more rationally, and hope they would be resolved according to international rules to achieve win-win results. According to HRCG findings, nearly 40 percent of the Chinese respondents said they understand why the US imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese products. This is surprising development because until a few years ago almost every Chinese found them unacceptable.Fortunately, Chinese social elites play an important role in shaping people's opinion on Sino-US relations. According to HRCG findings, there is a big difference between how Chinese social elites and the general public view Sino-US relations. But social elites, who tend to be more rational in their approach and more concerned about economic issues, have an obvious influence on the public.The cognitive differences between Chinese and American peoples have their roots in their cultural and psychological traditions. For example, Chinese people cherish their collectivist values while their American counterparts swear by individualism. These objective factors are difficult to change in the short term.Therefore, to ensure that Sino-US cooperation moves forward steadily, the two peoples should first develop deeper mutual understanding through more people-to-people exchange programs. Besides, the two governments should try to curb their differences and jointly promote pragmatic cooperation in fields where they can enlarge their common interests.

Courtesy China Daily.