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Perceptions of China, U.S. vary widely around globe

WASHINGTON – A poll in Europe finds that most Western Europeans believe that China has either supplanted or will supplant the United States as the world’s leading power.

The findings are part of a 22-nation poll Wednesday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

The annual Global Attitudes Project poll found that despite Western Europe’s doubts about the American projection of power, the United States retains a positive image in most of the countries surveyed. That continues a trend that began when Barack Obama became president in January 2009.

The poll also found widespread sentiment that China’s growing military power is a bad thing. But it produced a more mixed picture of China’s economic rise, with more people in 13 countries saying that it was a good thing than those with a negative view. In Britain, for instance, 53 percent of respondents said China’s economic growth was good, while 71 percent said its growing military might was bad.

Despite the bullish view of China’s rise in Western Europe, respondents in other regions had a different estimation. Just over a third of Turkish respondents thought that China would supplant the United States and 60 percent of Japanese respondents and 54 percent in Lebanon said China never will replace the United States as the leading power.

Though the United States was viewed favorably by a majority of respondents in most of the countries, there were some notable exceptions. The U.S. image continued to erode in Turkey, where only 10 percent of respondents expressed a favorable view. The ratings were similarly negative in Pakistan at 12 percent and in Jordan at 13 percent.

Views of Obama ranged greatly. Confidence in the U.S. president was sky-high in some countries, like Germany (88 percent), but rock bottom in others, like Pakistan (8 percent).

China also was viewed favorably in most countries but had positive ratings below 40 percent in Turkey, India, Germany, Japan and others.

Just over half of American respondents had a positive view of China, while only 44 percent of those from China thought positively of the United States, a drop of 14 percentage points since last year’s poll. The sample in China was disproportionately urban and Pew estimates that it represents about 57 percent of the adult population.

Interviews were conducted mostly face-to-face, although telephone interviews were used in the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Japan.


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