A lack of familiarity between the people of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea led a majority of those polled in the three nations to agree on the need to reinforce trilateral collaboration, according to results of an opinion poll released on Tuesday.
The 2018 China-Japan-ROK Trilateral Statistics on Public Opinion was released in Seoul by the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, jointly run by the three governments.
The three countries should diversify their cooperation, and in addition to the economy, they should work more on areas such as the environment, green energy development, healthcare and disaster response, the survey indicated.
As the first of its kind, the poll surveyed 1,000 people in China, 1,007 in Japan and 1,004 in the ROK in July. In Japan and the ROK, the survey covered all prefectures or provinces, and it covered 10 major cities in China.
When asked "how familiar do you feel" with the other two countries, only 32.2 percent of respondents in Japan and the ROK said they felt familiar with China. Among Chinese respondents, 33.9 percent said they felt familiar with Japan and 40.4 percent with the ROK.
In terms of mutual trust, 51.7 of Chinese respondents expressed trust toward Japan and 56.4 percent toward the ROK. Conversely, 24.2 of Japanese and 31.4 percent of ROK respondents said they trusted China, showing a trust deficit between China and its two neighbors.
Historical and territorial issues, political conflicts and differences in economic interests are among the major factors behind such a weak sense of familiarity and a lack of trust, according to an analysis released along with the survey.
When defining the relationship among the three economies, 42.7 percent of all respondents said it is competitive, 23.3 percent said it is complementary and 32.4 percent said neither.
Asked about the benefits of collaboration among the three countries, 82.6 percent of all respondents said teamwork would benefit their country, and 84.1 percent agreed that it would benefit all three nations.
Respondents in their 20s were more supportive of trilateral cooperation. Survey analysts said such teamwork is important because of increased economic interdependency and diplomatic issues.
Lee Jong-heon, secretary-general of the secretariat, said that despite negative perceptions among the three nations, "challenges could be seen as opportunities".
The poll showed that the public is looking forward to more tangible benefits from trilateral teamwork, and people in the three countries should join hands more, not compete maliciously, Lee said.