Majority in advanced world perceive China negatively: Pew survey

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New Delhi– Majority of the people in the 14 most economically advanced countries have a negative view of China, especially since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, as per the latest survey of the Pew Research Center.

The survey was conducted between June 10 to August 3, 2020, among 14,276 adults over the phone in the US, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

“Today, a majority in each of the surveyed countries has an unfavourable opinion of China. And in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, South Korea, Spain and Canada, negative views have reached their highest points since the Center began polling on this topic more than a decade ago,” the survey said.

Negative views of China increased most in Australia, where 81 per cent now say they see the country unfavorably, up 24 percentage points since last year. In the UK, around three-quarters now see the country in a negative light – up 19 points. And, in the US, negative views of China have increased nearly 20 percentage points since President Donald Trump took office, rising 13 points since just last year.

The rise in unfavourable views comes amid widespread criticism over how China has handled the Coronavirus pandemic. Across the 14 nations surveyed, a median of 61 per cent say China has done a bad job dealing with the outbreak.

“Disapproval of how China has handled the Covid-19 pandemic also colours people’s confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping. A median of 78 per cent say they have not too much or no confidence in him to do the right thing regarding world affairs, including at least seven-in-ten in every country surveyed.

This lack of confidence in Xi is at historic highs in every country for which trend data is available except Japan and Spain. In most countries, the per cent saying they have not too much or no confidence in him has grown by double digits since last year. For example, in the Netherlands, whereas around half distrusted Xi last year, today 70 per cent say the same – up 17 percentage points.”

Across the 14 countries surveyed, a median of 78 per cent say they have no confidence in Chinese President Xi to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs, with at least seven-in-ten in every country saying they lack confidence in Xi. Only a median of 19 per cent express any trust.

In the US, a majority say they have no confidence at all in Xi (55 per cent), and about half in Canada say the same (47 per cent). No more than a quarter report having any confidence in him in either country.

Europeans report similarly low levels of trust in Xi. A third or more in each country surveyed say they have no confidence at all in the Chinese president, including at least half in Sweden, France and Denmark.

About half in Japan and Australia also say they have no confidence at all in Xi. Japan also stands out as a country where less than 0.5 per cent of the public — effectively no one – reports having a lot of confidence in China’s president, though no more than 5 per cent report having a lot of confidence in him in any country surveyed.

When it comes to perceptions of economic strength, China fares relatively well in the survey. Of four options given, people in most countries polled are most likely to see China as the world’s top economy.

This is particularly true in Europe, where a plurality or majority in every country surveyed says China is the world’s leading economic power. Outside of the US itself — where 52 per cent of Americans say the US is the world’s leading economic power — only in Japan (53 per cent) and South Korea (77 per cent) do more name the US than China.

But even while pluralities or majorities in most countries note China’s economic strength relative to the US, this opinion does little to colour attitudes toward China more broadly, Pew report said. “In almost every country surveyed, people who name China as the top economic power and people who name the US are equally likely to have unfavourable views of China.”

“People’s own pocketbooks also have little bearing on their views of China. In most countries surveyed, those with higher income levels are equally likely as those with lower levels of income to give the country low marks.” (IANS)

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