September 18, 2012

U.S. Public, Experts Differ on China Policies

Survey Methods

General Public Survey

Results for the general public survey are based on telephone interviews conducted April 30 – May 13, 2012, among a national sample of 1,004 adults 18 years of age or older living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (600 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 404 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 195 who had no landline telephone). The survey was conducted by interviewers at Princeton Data Source under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. A combination of landline and cell phone random digit dial samples was used; both samples were provided by Survey Sampling International. Respondents in the landline sample were selected by randomly asking for the youngest adult male or female who is now at home. Interviews in the cell sample were conducted with the person who answered the phone, if that person was an adult 18 years of age or older.

The combined landline and cell phone samples are weighted using an iterative technique that matches gender, age, education, race, Hispanic origin and nativity and region to parameters from the March 2011 Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and population density to parameters from the Decennial Census. The sample is also weighted to match current patterns of telephone status, based on extrapolations from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey. The weighting procedure also accounts for the fact that respondents with both landline and cell phones have a greater probability of being included in the combined sample and adjusts for household size within the landline sample. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance take into account the effect of weighting. The error attributable to sampling that would be expected at the 95% level of confidence for the full sample is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points; the margin of error for Form 1 (n=477) and Form 2 (n=527) is plus or minus 5.3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Foreign Affairs Experts Survey

Results for the survey of American foreign affairs experts are based on 305 web and telephone interviews conducted March 1-May 15, 2012, with respondents from five subgroups: 54 government officials; 52 retired military officers; 74 business and trade leaders; 93 scholars, think tank experts and NGO leaders; and 32 members of the news media.

The goal of the survey was to identify high-ranking individuals with titles or positions that denote responsibility for matters related to national security or foreign policy. Among retired military personnel, those with ranks of colonel or captain or above, depending on the service, were included; in civilian or non-governmental agencies, those with ranks equivalent to that of a deputy office director or higher were surveyed. The survey was conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviewing was primarily self-administered online, but a phone interview option was made available to any respondent who requested it (215 interviews were completed online and 90 by telephone).

Sampling procedures for each subgroup are outlined below.

Government

The government sample includes government officials in the legislative and executive branches. A total of 300 people in the legislative branch were invited to participate in the survey, including members of Congress and senior professional staff (177 from the U.S. House of Representatives and 123 from the Senate). The sample was designed to reflect the party composition of each body. While 91 Representatives and Senators were contacted, no elected official completed the survey.

An additional 300 people from various executive departments, as well as the Office of the President and independent federal agencies, were invited to participate. The main source of names for the sample of officials in the legislative and executive branches was the online Leadership Library database.

Retired U.S. Military Officers

A total of 269 retired military officers were invited to participate in the survey. The main sources used were the Leadership Library and LexisNexis. The LexisNexis search identified retired military officers who were quoted in news articles about East Asia, China, national security and other foreign policy issues.

Scholars, Think Tank Experts and NGO Leaders

A total of 250 invitations to participate were sent to people in this segment, with Leadership Library as the primary source. The list from Leadership Library was supplemented using a Google Scholar search with the key words “U.S. China security.” Articles written since 2010 were reviewed for relevant names. In addition, faculty from top graduate schools in international politics with an emphasis on China or Asia were selected.

Business and Trade Leaders

A total of 450 business and trade leaders were identified using the Leadership Library as the primary source. In addition, a list of the Fortune 500 top executives was used to identify business executives with international responsibilities, especially in China and Asia more broadly.

News Media

A total of 250 members of the news media were invited to participate. The list was compiled using the Leadership Library as the primary source. The list was supplemented with names from the Cision MediaSource database and from Google Scholar and EBSCO searches. Reporters, editors, bureau chiefs and commentators with a focus on China, Asia, or other foreign policy topics were selected.

Contact Procedures

Requests for participation were sent to a total of 1,819 experts. Selected individuals were mailed an advance letter explaining the purpose of the study and encouraging their participation. The advance letter included the web address where the survey was hosted online by PSRAI and a unique username so each respondent could log into and complete the interview online. Advance letters were printed on specialized letterhead showing the three U.S. sponsors of the study: the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Pew Research Center, and the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Correspondingly the letter was signed by the three representatives of these institutions: Jessica Tuchman Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center; and J. Stapleton Roy, director of the Kissinger Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Advance letters were mailed out to 1,455 potential respondents on February 24, 2012. A second batch of advance letters was sent to an additional 364 experts on March 7, 2012.

Following the advance letter, subsequent requests for participation were sent primarily by email to selected individuals who had an available email address, had yet to complete the survey, and who had not explicitly refused to participate. Following the first batch of advance letters, initial email contact was made on March 6, 2012 (n=1,086). Subsequent to the second batch, an email was sent on March 21, 2012 (n=253). An additional email reminder was sent to all selected individuals who had not yet participated and had not explicitly refused on April 25, 2012 (n=774). On March 7, 2012, phone calling began to individuals from the first batch of advance letters who lacked email addresses, as well as those whose email invitations were returned as undeliverable, in an effort to gather working email addresses and encourage participation online. Phone calls to the second batch of contacted individuals began on April 2, 2012. Calls to both groups continued until the end of the field period. On March 14, 2012, phone calling began to selected individuals with email addresses who had not yet completed the survey, but not explicitly refused to participate.

The overall response rate for the survey of experts was 20%. The response rates for each subgroup were as follows: 11% for government officials, 25% for retired military officers, 18% for business and trade leaders, 40% for scholars, and 16% for members of the news media.