A recent survey by the PEW Global Attitudes Project shows favorable opinions of China on the decline worldwide, with positive opinions falling significantly in nine of 21 countries over the past year. The growing anti-China movement cites unilateralism, poor treatment of human rights and environmental abuse as the major strikes against the nation. Approval may be down, but respect is certainly up: majorities in a number of countries think China has “a significant amount of influence on the way things are going in their country,” a sentiment 76% of Americans agree with.
Whether or not this influence is considered positive varies worldwide, with Europe and America anxious and Asia and Africa usually more enthusiastic. The Chinese may be the most optimistic about their own success: while Western European nations are more likely than Asian countries to believe China may eventually supplant the US as the world superpower, a majority (53%) here affirm the prognosis, and 5% consider the PRC already on top.
Chinese unilateralism, economic firepower and unresponsiveness in the face of global warming are seen as parallels to policies of the United States, a nation that PEW reports has enjoyed a slight increase in global favor since 2007. This is partially due to optimism about the upcoming elections, particularly of improved foreign policy under Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Favorable views of the U.S. in China remain rather low, though they increased 7% to 41% in 2008.
China’s self-confidence is especially evident in the economic sector, an area that most global citizens regard with increasing depression. While 18 of the 24 countries surveyed regarded their national economies as “bad,” 82 percent of Chinese rated their own financial prospects positively. More striking is the fact that this number has remained constant since 2007 at a time when most other nations, including fellow up-and-coming economic hub India, experienced significant falls in national confidence.
While worldwide worries about China seem to be on the rise, there is still significant global approval of the Olympics being held in Beijing, though dissenters make up a majority in Japan and France, and over 40% in the U.S. and Germany.