Global Attitude Survey Shows Parallel Views on China and U.S.

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June 24 – The Pew Research Center recently published a global public opinions report that lent insight on the changing images of the United States and China. The survey interviewed 24,000 people from 24 countries. It found that the majority share the concern of slowing economic conditions and they believe the United States has a sizable effect on their economy, albeit a negative one.

China is the rare exception, as the Chinese are still optimistic about their economy. The U.S. public on the other hand, has lost faith over the past year in their economic condition. The two countries have comparable impressions in the minds of people around the world. This year witnessed a slightly damaged Chinese image and a somewhat better U.S. one. In addition, both nations are considered to wield much influence over other countries and criticized for acting unilaterally in their international dealings. The Japanese and South Koreans, for instance, are especially critical of Chinese unilateral practices. The United States and China are also perceived as not taking enough environmental responsibility.

Regarding China’s rising economic power and its influence on the state of other nations, the majority of Westerners and South Koreans share greater concern than the peoples of other Asian and African countries do. In spite of increasingly unfavorable sentiment towards the Chinese, most people worldwide approve of China hosting the Olympics this summer. The greatest opposition comes from the Japanese and the French.

In comparison to the United States, China’s image is much better in Indonesia, Pakistan, and Russia, though the Indian and South Korean public hold a superior perception of the United States than of China. In Western Europe, Great Britain, France and Germany view the United States more positively than they do China.

As with the United States, China is now also viewed as directly influencing people in their own countries. For example, 86 percent of Japanese and 76 percent of American respondents judge China’s impact as considerable. People in Africa, specifically Nigerians and South Africans, also consider China very influential but hold a much more positive view of China on the whole.

While the United States has a decent image among citizens everywhere for its human rights concerns, China on the other hand is heavily criticized for its human rights practices, especially by people from Western countries. Nigeria, Pakistan and Tanzania  are the countries where a vast majority of the public approve of China’s treatment of personal freedoms.

Finally, in 22 of 24 countries, the United States is recognized as the leading global economic power though the German and Australian public placed China first. It is also widely believed globally that American foreign policy will improve following the inauguration of a new president. Currently, the United States is regarded by certain global pluralities more as an enemy than as a friend.