Unfavourable views of China hover at record-high levels across the countries in the developed world, the latest study conducted by Pew Research study has said.
The United States-based research organisation, recently carried out a survey among the 17 biggest economies of the world, in Europe, the Asia Pacific and the North America region, which gave extremely negative and unfavourable opinions about China. Out of the 17 biggest economies, 15 hold negative views of China, including Canada, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.
About 76 per cent of respondents in the United States said they viewed the most populous country unfavourably in February, up three percentage points from last year. The percentage of people with negative views about China was even higher in countries such as Japan (88 per cent), Sweden (80 per cent), Australia (78 per cent) and South Korea (77 per cent)—all countries that have had bitter disputes with Beijing in recent months. Only Greece (42 per cent) and Singapore (34 per cent) have mostly favourable views toward China.
As for other advanced countries, most of them have broadly negative views about China, which have more or less remained the same since 2020.
The findings were drawn from nationally representative surveys conducted between February 1 to May 26 this year among 18,850 people in 17 advanced economies.
Majorities in all but one of the 17 publics surveyed have little or no confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping
In all 17 public surveyed except for 1, majorities say they have little or no confidence in Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. Approximately eight in ten in both North American countries lack confidence in the Chinese president. Among both Canadians and Americans, this is a significant increase from 2020.
Similarly, in European countries too, Xi Jinping is not a very likeable figure. At least seven in ten adults say they have no confidence in Xi in all but one European country surveyed. Be it Sweden, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany, more than 70 per cent expressed no confidence at all in China’s president.
Likewise in the Asia Pacific, the public surveyed in Japan(86), South Korea(84), Australia(82), New Zealand(73), and Taiwan(68) have held no confidence in the Chinese Premier. In Singapore, 70 per cent of respondents have reaffirmed their faith in Xi Jinping.
Confidence in Xi is related to China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. With the initial cover-up and China’s reticence in revealing the complete details of the pandemic early on, the trust in Beijing and its leader has taken a severe beating, which is reflected in the latest research study.
Most prefer close economic ties with the US over China
When asked which country—the United States or China—would they prefer to have economic ties with, around half or more in 15 of 16 publics surveyed preferred the United States. Those in Canada are most inclined to prefer ties with the United States over China, possibly because of the close proximity and a growing strain in its relationship with China.
Even Europeans surveyed have overwhelmingly considered the United States as a more important partner over China. More than 75 per cent of Swedish respondents hold this view, and over two-thirds or more in the Netherlands, the UK and Italy agree with the view that the US is a more important partner than China.
In the Asia Pacific too, views over economic ties are in favour of the United States. 8 in 10 respondents in Japan and South Korea have chosen ties with the United States over China. In Australia, which came into Beijing’s crosshairs after it demanded a fair inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, 59 per cent of the respondents chose the United States as against 31 per cent that preferred China as their economic partner.
Most people believe China does not honour personal freedom
A large majority of the people in the surveyed 17 countries said that the government of China does not respect the personal freedoms of its people. This view was express by 90% or more people in the US, Australia, Sweden, South Korea and Japan. Apart from two countries, the figure was above 80% in all the other countries. The lowest figure was 60% for Singapore.
The study found that the view that China does not respect the personal freedoms of its people is also at or near historic highs in most publics surveyed. Even though for last several years majority of people are believing that China does not grant personal freedom, the share of people with that believe has gone up.
The Pew Research study also found that opinions about China’s treatment of its people and their views of China as a whole are closely related. In countries where more people think China does not respect its citizens, unfavourable views of the country are also higher.