This week, the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan organization based out of Washington D.C., released its latest findings on China’s popularity around the globe. Pew polled over 40,000 people in 38 countries, finding that, despite recent events, China is still not as popular as the United States. However, its leader is more trusted.
A median of 47% of those polled had a favorable view of China, but that didn’t quite beat the median of 49% who thought well of the US. But, popularity aside, the results of the survey also demonstrated that even though China may not be extraordinarily well liked, it is a serious competitor for the title of the world’s leading economic power.
The 2008 recession hit all major economies hard. While major Western countries have now managed to return to a state of relative stability, some East Asian nations, most notably China and India, rebounded and then continued to rapidly grow. According to CNN’s analysis of the data, the steady economic growth China has experienced over the past few years makes it a legitimate contender for the world’s leading economic power.
The Pew data shows that Americans along with residents of Latin America and sub-Sahara Africa believe that the US is the world’s leading economic power. China, on the other hand, garners support for the title from EU nations, Russia, Australia, and the United States’ close neighbor, Canada.
No matter which country global citizens believe to be the most powerful, it’s pretty clear that neither China or the US is exceedingly well liked. Especially when it comes to their leaders. The most staggering, yet not entirely unexpected difference, came when people were asked whether they were confident that a world leader would “do the right thing” when it came to global political affairs. 53% of the people polled had no confidence in Xi’s morality. But that’s not half-bad considering that 74% had zero faith in President Trump.
Apparently, Trump’s raucous performance on the global stage has outshone Xi’s more subdued one. Pew’s data showed that about one out of every five people polled simply didn’t have an opinion about Xi, compared to the 8% of people who hadn’t thought about Trump. But, sulking in obscurity doesn’t seem that bad compared to the American alternative, where a caricature of a reality TV star garners international attention by acting as the leader of the free world.
Even if Xi’s actions do not plague the thoughts of global citizens, people certainly have a lot to say about China in general. And it is absolutely clear that people across the globe do not believe that China is respecting its citizens’ personal freedoms. Only 25% of people polled believe that China is doing a good job at promoting individual liberties. Due to recent allegations in the news about the ways in which China has treated its citizens, human rights heroes and otherwise, this isn’t all that surprising.
However, China has received more positive reactions from citizens of countries which have benefited from major business deals (like sub-Saharan Africa). This is further demonstrated by the fact that, despite the strained interactions between Washington and Beijing, as of March 2017, 44% of Americans still have a positive opinion of their East Asian business partner.
If you’re interested in seeing a more detailed analysis of the data, check out Pew Research’s findings here.
By Emma Abrams
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