As India and China continue their phenomenal growth on the world economic stage, the focus on these two key markets have seen a growth of Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) and supporting industries moving to markets like Singapore and Hong Kong as gateways to North and South Asia. There has also been movement into newer, emerging markets like Vietnam and Indonesia where some are successfully riding the coattails of these more established markets.

Hong Kong has long been a gateway to China for MNCs. In the first ever Harris Poll in Asia, the attitudinal economic outlook regarding China is very similar among adults in both China and Hong Kong, with 85% of Chinese saying that China will be the most influential economy in the next ten years, compared to 87% of those in Hong Kong who say the same. Almost four in five (79%) of those in Hong Kong think the growth of China is good for Hong Kong’s economy as well.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll released yesterday, and in which 4,251 adults were surveyed online in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and India (February 14 and 21, 2011) and also the U.S (January 17 and 24, 2011).

Begun in 1963 in the United States, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running, most respected proprietary surveys conducted by Harris Interactive measuring public opinion and is highly regarded throughout the world. “For over 40 years, the Harris Poll has been a respected barometer of public opinion in the United States and more recently in Europe.   Today, we are proud to bring the Harris Poll to Asia, recognizing the importance of understanding the pulse of the Asian consumer in today’s marketplace,” commented Kimberly Till, CEO of Harris Interactive.

Indians are also quite bullish about the progress they have made and where they are going. Thinking about the next ten years almost two-thirds (63%) of Indians are optimistic about their economy, with 80% saying India will be the most influential economy. Only half of Americans (49%) are optimistic about their own economy, and fewer say they will be most influential in ten years (39%). Half of Americans, rather, agree with those in China and Hong Kong, and say China will be most influential in ten years (49%).

Singapore, like Hong Kong, with its English speaking community, infrastructure and comforts (i.e. the “West of the East”) has made it a favorable place to attract talent and to do business. In fact, among Chinese, Indians, Singaporeans and Hong Kong residents alike, Singapore emerged as the country with the ideal economy to live in—48% of adults in these countries say Singapore is most ideal, compared to the 25% who think China is ideal.

“The poll supports what most of us who work and live here already think – that the growth and China of India helps everyone in the region,” said Asha Choksi, Senior Vice President and Head of Research for Harris Interactive Asia.

An Ecosystem Where Everyone Benefits

Seven in ten (70%) Singaporeans are optimistic about their own economy, with 46% seeing themselves take center stage as the next big player in the global economy. They also see themselves very much as part of a larger ecosystem: 70% of Singaporeans think that India’s growth is good for their economy and 78% say the same about China’s growth. Probably based on their own experiences, they think critical factors for growth are proper infrastructure (35%) and good country leadership (43%).

Future trends

China seems to have a much more aggressive picture of their ability to sustain their growth, with 53% of Chinese indicating that they believe they will be the most powerful economy in 2050 versus 35% of Indians who believe the same about their own economy. Singapore seems to show a more balanced picture with an even split between those who think India (26%) and China (27%) will be the most powerful economy in 2050.

To sustain growth, the Chinese believe that free/open trade (39%) and a growing consumer market (39%) are most critical, opinions which are shared by those in Hong Kong (46% and 31% say so, respectively). India highlighted infrastructure (31%) and education (31%) as being critical to growth while those in the U.S. see a low cost of labor (35%) as most important.

Outside of the five countries surveyed, Korea is seen as being the next big player in the global economy with between 26% and 31% of adults in the U.S., China, Hong Kong, Singapore and India indicating this. Many Indians also feel that UAE (35%) and Malaysia (34%) will be the next big players. Among some of the emerging Southeast Asian markets, Vietnam emerged as one of the next big players in the economy, with 21% of Singaporeans indicating that it is likely to play a big role in the global economy in coming years.

So What?

Clearly no one country operates in isolation and the general perception now is that most countries are embracing the growth in China and India to help them leverage their own strengths and opportunities in the global marketplace, whether that be a growing consumer market, low cost of labor, infrastructure to do business and so on.

“As an organization, even we are continuing to grow our teams in these hub markets to collect the views of consumers across the region,” said Amrita Banta, Senior Vice President, Business Development, Harris Interactive, Asia, who just brought in two key executives in India and in China. “We are excited about what is ahead and will continue to adapt our business to trends in the Asian market.”

The Asian Harris Poll® #1, March 3, 2011

By Asha Choksi, SVP, Research and Operations, Harris Interactive Asia