Several factors influence perception of international relations. Varying in every individual, as a result of childhood experiences, are beliefs, dispositions, and basic psychological needs. Contradictory to what some may think, all Americans as well as Chinese are not united in their opinions.
An American who grew up in an inner city, lower class neighborhood, rose by a single parent, deficient of sufficient capital resources, positive influences and education, may have different psychological needs, drives, and dispositions than an American who grew up in a typical middle class neighborhood, raised by two parents, and who attended a private school. The difference between these two upbringings, results with two people with different perceptual predispositions and opinions.
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However, Americans are generally all exposed to similar stimulus that emits American cultural and behavioral beliefs. This aspect applies to the Chinese and their cultural beliefs as well. Occupational position and community roles are other aspects of individuals that influence their perception of international relations. The Chinese government has supported an isolationist policy for many years. In general, Chinese citizens may not be as tolerant of diversity and change as Americans are.
What Chinese children are taught in their schooling may be completely different from Americans are taught. Rationally, both countries teach according to the set of core principles in accord to the ruling government, and so ideas of ethical behavior and politics of that particular government are ingrained. In addition, alike in both countries is the tendency to form similar opinions as their parents or role models. Opinions expressed by peers and frequent associates, attitudes expressed by policymakers, scholars, political pundits, leaders etc. shape perceptions of international relations as well. China is a single party communist state while the United States has a multiparty system and supports the spread of democracy. With the prospect of an independent and democratic Taiwan, Americans, who support the spread of democracy, view this as good news, while a Chinese citizen whom supports the government and policies of his/her country, views this situation in a negative light.
To this Chinese citizen, the spread of democracy, especially to a state so geographically close to China, is alerting and even threatening. Americans and Chinese may have different perceptions of international relations as a result of several factors, stemming from an individual’s role, childhood upbringing, and occupation to the more complex influence of society and ideologies of their country.