Ahead of the APEC high-level meeting on economic affairs in San Francisco starting this weekend, where US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to meet, a survey comparing the views of 24 countries towards China and the United States United States, shows that impressions of Washington are more favorable than those of Beijing. This trend is more pronounced especially among high and middle income countries.
A new Pew Research Center study released Monday compares views of the U.S. and China and highlights differences in more than 10 categories, including trust in U.S. and Chinese leaders, perceptions of their economic power and capabilities technological.
Among the countries included in the study are advanced economies in North America and Europe, as well as middle-income countries in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa.
Positive impression of the United States
The study notes that high-income countries tend to have a more positive view of the United States than of China.
57% of respondents in Japan and 62% in South Korea favor the US over China. Differences are smaller in middle-income countries.
The difference in impressions of President Biden and President Xi was evident in countries such as Germany and Sweden where 53% and 64% respectively expressed more confidence in Mr. Biden than in Mr. Xi. In Indonesia and Kenya, the difference in trust ratings for the two leaders was just a few points, with Mr. Biden slightly ahead of Mr. Xi.
“These differences in views of the American and Chinese leaders reflect both worsening impressions of Mr. Xi in high-income countries and increased confidence in Mr. Biden,” Pew researchers wrote.
Although views of the two countries have fluctuated over the years, according to the Pew organization, those of the US have “improved dramatically in many of the countries surveyed” since Mr. Biden came to power, while views of China remain “among the most the negatives”.
“Trust in the US president was relatively low in 2007 when Bush was president, but increased when Obama took office in 2008,” says Christine Huang, a research associate at the Pew Research Center and one of the authors of the latest study. .
“As well as favorable views of the US, because they are significantly more positive in most of the countries surveyed during the Obama presidency. Meanwhile, trust in China’s president has declined over time, as have favorable views of the country,” she told VOA in a written response.
Richard Turcsányi, a Chinese foreign policy expert at Palacky University Olomouc in the Czech Republic says that “high-income countries are generally allies of the US, so they are satisfied with the current international order… They tend to be democratic and therefore dislike China because of its authoritarian system.”
He says middle-income countries are generally not traditional US allies and are often not “fully democratic,” so they prefer changes that would strengthen their role.
“Many of them have various grievances against the US, Europe and the West in general, as well as the feeling that they are being treated unfairly and thus see China as an alternative. Although they do not necessarily like Beijing, the difference in preference to the US and China is less pronounced between them,” he adds.
US, with greater inclination to intervene
Although the US enjoys more favorable views than China overall, respondents in the 24 countries have mixed views of Washington and Beijing when it comes to foreign policy.
The study shows that the US is more likely to be seen as an interventionist power than China in almost all countries. In Greece, 93% of people surveyed see the US as a country that interferes in the affairs of other countries, while 56% say the same about China, a significant difference of 37%. However, in Australia, there is only a two percent difference.
Majorities of respondents in the 24 countries, including Japan, Canada and Mexico, think the US is more likely to take their countries’ interests into account than China. In addition, most respondents, including in South Korea, Great Britain and India, think the US contributes more to global peace and stability than China.
Technical and military power
The study concludes that the differences in preference for the two countries are easier in areas such as technological strength. Among all countries surveyed, an average of 72% of respondents view American technology as “best or above average” and 69% have similar views of Chinese technology.
However, respondents in Latin American countries such as Mexico and Argentina were more likely to rate China’s technological achievements positively, while US technological achievements received more positive ratings in Asian countries, including South Korea and Japan.
Study Huang tells VOA that differences in different parts of the world regarding US and Chinese technology may also be related to differences in the market presence of different products.
“Chinese technology is viewed particularly positively in Nigeria, where Chinese companies currently control most of the mobile market,” she says.
A majority of respondents in all the countries included in the study say the US military is above average or the best, while only about half of the countries surveyed say the same about China.
However, the study points out that “there is little difference” in assessments of the Chinese and US military between middle-income countries such as Mexico and high-income countries such as Germany.
Some researchers say that the results of public opinion surveys can serve as important reference points for policymakers around the world.
“Policymakers in many countries rely on public opinion because those public participants participate in elections,” researcher Turcsányi of the Czech Republic told VOA.
“If the general trend is that China is viewed negatively, with a low economic outlook, that sentiment will rub off on leaders and they will act accordingly,” he adds.
Pew researchers say they hope the study’s findings will help better understand the geopolitical balance between the US and China.
“We can’t say for sure how it will be used, but we hope officials learn from studies like ours,” Laura Silver, associate director at the Pew Research Center and one of the study’s authors, told VOA.