As a direct expression of soft power, national image is becoming increasingly significant in international relations. Sino-European relations are one of the most important bilateral relations in the world. Therefore, the image of Europe and European countries in China has a profound impact on the bilateral relations. By conducting a nationwide online survey to 5,125 Chinese young people, this study examines how the young generations in major Chinese cities perceive Europe, particularly Germany, with the goal of promoting better mutual understanding between the two sides.
• In contemporary China, young people are generally willing to learn about Europe and Germany. The mainland Chinese internet, including social media, has become the most popular source of information about Europe and Germany for the young generation.
• Overall, Chinese youth perceive Europe and Germany positively. The majority of Chinese youth believe that Europe and Germany are prosperous both economically and culturally. More specifically, Europeans are seen as open-minded, innovative, honest, and trustworthy, while Germans are seen as realistic, rational, hardworking, and honest.
• Germany, with the exception of China and Russia, is the most highly recognized and trusted country among young Chinese. Chinese youth think highly of Germany’s governance capacity and political stability, are well-aware of the German brands, and regard German philosophy and literature as representative of German culture.
• From a global perspective, Europe and Germany are better impressed and trusted by young Chinese, compared to Asia and the United States (U.S.). In the eyes of Chinese young people, the competition and cooperation between the two sides are characterized to be friendly, healthy and mutually beneficial.
• Most Chinese young people are optimistic about Sino-European and Sino-German relations, and expect the bilateral relations to be closer and more cordial in the future.