China's image takes a battering as majority of nations brand it a 'negative influence'
Survey of 25 countries and EU sees rise in 'mostly negative' rating and decline in 'mostly positive' rating, with analysts divided on reasons
Global views of China's influence have deteriorated sharply, according to a poll conducted for the BBC's World Service, reaching their lowest level in years.
Analysts said the change reflected China's increasing positive and negative involvement in international affairs.
The 2013 Country Ratings Poll asked 26,299 people in 25 nations between December and April to rate 16 countries and the European Union on whether their influence in the world was "mostly positive" or "mostly negative".
Views on China's influence dropped to the lowest level since the poll began in 2005, with positive views falling eight points to 42 per cent and negative views rising eight points to 39 per cent.
China ranked ninth, behind the US. Of the 25 countries surveyed, 12 held positive views of China, 13 negative views. China ranked fifth in the 2011-2012 poll.
Perceptions of China have deteriorated markedly within the EU, with the percentage of negative views highest in France and second-highest in Spain. In both countries the negative response rose by 19 points in the latest survey, to 68 per cent in France and 67 per cent in Spain.
Views from regions closer to China were not much better, with Australian views on China's influence plunging dramatically. In the previous survey they were 61 per cent positive and 29 per cent negative but that swung around to 36 per cent positive and 55 per cent negative in the latest survey.
The Japanese response was the most negative among the countries surveyed, with only 5 per cent holding positive views against 64 per cent holding negative views.
In return, the country with the highest negative rating in China was Japan, with just 17 per cent of Chinese holding positive views and 74 per cent viewing Japan negatively, up nine points.
China had one of the most negative attitudes towards the US, with only one in five Chinese respondents holding a positive view, down nine points, and 57 per cent holding negative views.
Dr Lin Limin, from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, said China's image may have been affected by escalating disputes with neighbours and some negative images of rude Chinese tourists and investors, but it was more a reflection of China's rising power.
"Like (the US) the No1 man, (China) being the No2 man will unavoidably be criticised, which means we are more active in the international arena," Lin said.
Professor Qiao Mu , of Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the rating had put China in an "embarrassing" position, compared to the nation's rising economic power and the national image it sought to project.
"It seems China is getting rich fast but its influence ranking is dropping dramatically," Qiao said. "China is drawing more attention globally, for its increasing foreign aid and participation in international affairs, but now it turns out that the values and the political system China holds are not accepted by the world."
The poll is conducted by GlobeScan, an international polling firm, and the Programme on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.