Resistance to China as top global power

A new poll of nine big countries finds a strong preference for the U.S., rather than China, to be the leading superpower.

Why it matters: The Eurasia Group Foundation (EGF) poll is the latest signal that many around the world are viewing China’s rise with trepidation.

Breaking it down: Huge majorities in India, Nigeria, Poland and Brazil — and pluralities in Egypt and Mexico — think U.S. influence in their region has generally been positive over the last 20 years.

  • In China, 62% believe it’s been negative.

That’s a relatively new phenomenon in China. When EGF first conducted this poll in 2019, just 17% of Chinese respondents had negative views of the U.S. overall. Three years later, 45% do.

  • Views of China in the U.S. have grown more negative still, according to recent polls from Pewand Gallup.
  • Washington isn’t preferred over Beijing everywhere around the world. EGF found in 2021 that two-thirds of Russians would rather China be the leading global power.
  • Among the nine countries in the new EGF poll, the top reason for picking the U.S. was that it’s a “trustworthy economic partner,” while the top reason for picking China was that it’s “a good example for national development.”

EGF also asked about two other U.S. exports: pop culture and “ideas of democracy.”

  • While the Jan. 6 hearings in Washington have highlighted the fragile state of American democracy, huge majorities in Nigeria, India, Poland, Brazil and Egypt view U.S. democracy favorably and want their governing system to become more like America’s.
  • Even in China, 32% view “American ideas of democracy” favorably, though that’s down from 45% in 2019. Meanwhile, 28% want China’s government to become more like America’s.
  • American soft power remains strong. Big majorities in every country except Egypt believe U.S. movies, music and TV have had a positive impact on their countries. That includes China.

The trend: Favorable views of the U.S. have increased significantly in Germany, Japan and Mexico since Donald Trump left office.

  • Still, respondents in Japan and Germany tend to be ambivalent about American influence and military cooperation with their American allies. (Majorities in Japan are “neutral” on both questions).
  • By contrast, respondents in Poland, India, Nigeria and Brazil are overwhelmingly in favor of cooperation with the U.S. military.
  • However in Egypt, a top recipient of U.S. military aid, 60% view military collaboration with the U.S. negatively.

More from the survey:

  • Pluralities in every country believe the U.S. has handled Russia’s Ukraine invasion well, except in China (where responses are evenly split) and Japan (where a majority is “neutral”).
  • Perhaps surprisingly for Americans, 52% of respondents across the nine countries think the U.S. has handled the pandemic well, up from 41% in last year’s survey (respondents from China and Germany are the most skeptical).
  • Asked about their biggest concern with the U.S. system of government, the top answer across the nine countries was the income gap between rich and poor.

Full survey and methodology.


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