How the World Sees China

Dec 11, 2007

The rise of anti-Americanism in recent years has given China a decided image advantage over the United States. Considerably more people around the world have an unfavorable view of the America than think poorly of China. But signs in Pew's polling suggest that perceptions of China's increasing power – both military and economic – could boost anti-Chinese sentiment in years to come. In fact, there are some signs that this has already begun to occur in Western Europe where worries about China's economic power are on the rise.

Our most recent reading of attitudes toward China among countries around the world comes at a time of widespread discontent with virtually all of the "powers that be." Not surprisingly, this year's Pew Global Attitudes survey found global opinions of China mixed.1 The same, of course, is true of opinions of the United States. But what is most striking is that the publics of more countries dislike America than dislike China.

In 27 of the 46 nations plus the Palestinian Territories covered by the survey, the balance of opinion regarding China is decidedly favorable; in just five countries are views of China significantly more negative than positive. By comparison, the balance of opinion about the United States is favorable in 25 of the 47 countries; but views of America are decidedly negative in many more countries – half or more of the publics in 18 countries express disapproving views of the United States.

China's fans are most prevalent in the neighboring Asian countries of Malaysia (83% favorable), Pakistan (79%), Bangladesh (74%), Indonesia (65%), as well as in most African countries (92% favorable in both Ivory Coast and Mali and between 67% and 81% in Kenya, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Ethiopia).

Still, some Asian publics express mixed feelings about their relationship with China. In Indonesia, for example, a 43% plurality calls China's growing military power a "bad thing," but 66% applaud China's growing economy. In South Korea, a small majority (52%) say it looks favorably on China but substantial majorities worry about its growing military and economic power.

Negative views of China are especially strong in Japan, where 67% say they have a generally unfavorable view of China while an even larger majority (80%) disapproves of China's expanding military strength. Several European countries also cast a worried eye on the Middle Kingdom with majorities in Italy (61%), the Czech Republic (58%), Germany (54%), France (51%) as well as Turkey (53%) saying they hold an unfavorable view of China.

Read the full report How the World Sees China on the Pew Research Center Web site.

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