The United States and the People’s Republic of China will likely be the two most influential countries for the rest of the 21st century. This is how people in 40 countries around the world currently view the two nations across a variety of global issues, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
Broadly, the U.S. is seen more positively in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia; while China is viewed significantly more favorably in the Middle East.
The United States’ “Pivot to Asia” is welcomed by most of the countries in the region, although the Malaysians and Pakistanis think it’s a bad thing because it could lead to conflict with China. 54% of Chinese think the U.S. is trying to prevent it from becoming as powerful.
Here are the favorability ratings for America among the other countries in the study. As you can see, the U.S. is most popular in the Philippines, Ghana, it’s close allies South Korea and Israel, Kenya and the rest of Africa, along with Italy. The Europeans are strongly supportive, but not overwhelmingly so. While Russia has a very negative view of the United States, fueled by the non-stop anti-U.S. propaganda coming from Putin’s Kremlin.
Zooming in, you see that the Russians turned sharply against America around the time Putin faced strong opposition at home, which is when he began building up America as an external threat.
Globally, it’s fascinating how much more positively younger generations view the U.S. now that they are all on the Internet, a communication medium which has so far been dominated by the West.
This could be behind the strong confidence most in the world have in the decision-making capabilities of one of the most Internet-savvy leaders in history, U.S. President Barack Obama.
Now, these are the global favorability ratings of China. The Pakistanis may be China’s closest ally, sharing not only a productive relationship, but also a common cross border rival, in India. Africans are also overwhelmingly supportive thanks to the money — and migrant workers — the Chinese are pouring into the continent as its largest trading partner. The Russian’s love China partially because they too share a common rival: America, the current global superpower. The West’s views are all fairly consistent in their skeptical feelings toward the Chinese, although France and the UK have a more favorable view.
Favorability views of China have changed in the past year thanks to actions like Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India.
Economically, the world increasingly thinks the U.S. is still the leader, and this data was gathered before China’s economic troubles this summer…
But the world is also convinced that China has, or is on its way to, replacing the United States as the superpower. Of the 40 nations in this survey only Brazil, Uganda, close U.S. allies the Philippines and Japan, Vietnam, and the U.S. itself think China will never replace the U.S., although it’s remarkable how pessimistic even the Americans are.
Generally, China is viewed very negatively on its respect for the personal freedoms of its people, although countries that also don’t have the greatest human rights records have a more favorable view of China on this issue because they don’t really understand what it’s like to be truly free of government oppression either, like the Russians, Africans, Middle Easterners, and Venezuelans in this survey.
China’s global rating on this issue has actually taken a hit over the past year as pro-democracy protests that erupted in Hong Kong were forcefully put down. The Communist Party also doubled down on its Orwellian Internet censorship campaign, which we detailed in a previous video you can watch here and through the link below.
Next is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The largest trade deal in world history, that’s currently being spearheaded by the United States, is strongly supported by citizens in all countries involved. Obama’s main objective here is to strengthen America’s economic ties with China’s neighbors, as a countermeasure to the power of the Chinese economy.
This chart shows how young people are more likely to embrace globalization, especially Americans and Mexicans. Youth support for the TPP may also be a reflection of Obama’s popularity with millennials.
Most countries would rather have stronger economic ties with the United States than with China, although it’s interesting to see that staunch American allies South Korea and Australia actually think it’s more important to trade with China.
Regionally, most countries welcome the increased U.S. military presence that came with Obama’s pivot, although the Pakistanis don’t, and the South Koreans are naturally wary, given that Korea was the site of an extremely bloody war between the Americans and Chinese less than 65 years ago.
More data reveals that the Malaysians would much rather give in to China’s territorial bullying in the South China sea than stand up to them. The most defiant country is Vietnam, who staunchly favors being tough on China.
Partially, this defiance is bolstered by America’s Asian allies’ belief that the U.S. would come to their defense if a serious military conflict broke out.
That belief is bolstered by significant public opinion in the U.S. in favor of defending America’s allies in Asia using military force against China.
As helpful as this data is in allowing conclusions to be drawn about the U.S. vs China standing in the world, it raises just as many questions. What piece of data was most significant to you? And what burning question are you left with after watching this video?