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Big boost in approval for US under Biden, while China lingers at all-time lows

Pew Research Center poll shows intense preference for US over China in 17 advanced economies

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U.S. and Chinese flags

U.S. and Chinese flags (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The image of the United States appears to be rising in the developed world, while that of China continues to bottom out, according to a survey conducted in 17 advanced economies by the Pew Research Center.

The poll took place between Feb. 1 and May 26, with 18,850 participants spread across 17 countries in Europe, North America, and the Asia-Pacific region.

The U.S. has seen a significant jump in its approval ratings since the arrival of President Biden, coming off all-time lows during the Trump administration. The change has been remarkable in some cases, such as Sweden, which had a 70 percent increase of confidence in the U.S. in just one year, according to reports.

The view that China does not respect the personal freedoms of its people was held by a majority in each of the countries surveyed by Pew, with eight out of 10 people agreeing in 15 of the 17 countries, a significant rise in many of them since 2018.

A median of 73 percent in the Asia-Pacific saw China unfavorably, with Japan leading the way with nine out of 10 people regarding it negatively. Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia also had two-thirds majorities who saw China in a bad light, according to the poll.

Singapore, where 64 percent of people saw China favorably, was the only surveyed country in the Asia Pacific region where this belief obtained a majority.

A median of 66 percent held unfavorable views of China in Europe, with as many as 80 percent feeling that way in Sweden. Greece, where a slight majority of 52 percent saw China favorably, was in this regard alone in Europe.

The polling data by Pew on the question of China's favorability goes back to 2005, when views towards the communist country were much more upbeat. In the time since, all surveyed countries have seen at least a 20-percent jump in unfavorable views toward China, with most having more than doubled in this area.

The value placed on close economic ties with the U.S. has also grown, with a majority in more than half of countries surveyed affirming their importance. Singapore was the only country surveyed with a majority that explicitly put more value on its economic ties with China, while in New Zealand, respondents valued their economic relationship with both countries more or less equally.

Confidence in Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) to do the right thing in world affairs hovered at all-time lows, with eight out of ten North Americans having no confidence. In Europe, at least seven out of ten people felt this way in every country except one: Greece, where still only 36 percent of respondents affirmed confidence in him.

In the Asia Pacific, a median of 77 percent of people had no confidence in Xi to do the right thing on the world stage, with 68 percent of people in Taiwan sharing this view. The only country in the region where a majority had confidence in Xi was Singapore, where 70 percent did.

The one area where China saw a positive trend was in its handling of COVID-19, with a median of 49 percent of people across the survey thinking China had done a good job — an improvement from views at the outset of the pandemic, and particularly in Europe. The number was lower in the Asia Pacific, with only 34 percent of respondents in the region thinking China handled COVID well.


Updated : 2021-09-23 09:04 GMT+08:00