This study set out to investigate the current perceptions and attitudes of Israelis towards various aspects of China, and the impact of these perceptions and attitudes on their intuitive response to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). A Questionnaire comprising 37 questions- 9 of them open ended and the remainder closed- was constructed and administered to 451participants from 2 different samples: a ‘General Population’ sample (n=325), and a High Educated sample (n=126). Data were analysed (SPSS VER22), by means of cross-tabulation and Pearson’s Correlation coefficient to reveal the distribution shape of each variable; the internal correlations between the variables; the association between the independent variables (level of education and the direct experiencing of China); and the perceptions and attitudes of China and its relation to attitudes of the BRI. Linear regression analysis was employed to determine the direct influence and (beta) the overall impact that attitudes toward China have on intuitive responses to questions about the BRI.
In other words, the authors examine the predictive power of perceptions and attitudes relating to China on their perceptions and attitudes of the BRI. Findings suggest that outside of China’s political realm, Israeli’s tend to view China and its people favorably. A significant difference was found between the attitudes and perceptions of those of higher education as opposed to the general population, and between those who have visited China and those who have not- having visited China and being of higher education were associated with more positive opinions of China and its people. Only 15% of Israeli’s have heard of the BRI. After having been provided with additional information explaining the BRI in more detail, most Israeli’s intuitively welcomed the initiative with only a few believing the intention of the BRI to be sinister. The study suggests that attitudes and perceptions of China and its people did not strongly influence opinions of the BRI. While the results are promising, suggesting that Israelis view China, its people, and the BRI in positive light, the Authors recommend that the findings of the present study be validated by replication study before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.