• Wed
  • Jul 23, 2014
  • Updated: 2:17pm

China to replace America as the leading superpower, survey finds

Public's view of China not favourable, Pew survey finds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 11:41am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 3:07am

China will replace America as the leading superpower, according to an international global attitudes survey released on Thursday, even though just half of the nations polled view China favourably.

And only one in every four nations thinks China respects the personal freedom of its people. In comparison, 95 per cent of nations think the US government respects its citizens’ personal freedoms in the survey which was conducted before Edward Snowden's surveillance revelations were made public.

These are among the major findings of the Pew Research Centre’s Global Attitudes Project, which conducted surveys in 39 countries among 37,653 respondents from March 2 to May 1, 2013. It is the first study to gauge public responses to China to such a large scale.

“It would appear that the treatment of personal freedom is a very strong indicator of favourability, and that’s a data point the Chinese government has to think about,” said Bruce Stokes, director of the Global Attitudes project.

Global perceptions about the balance of power have shifted since the financial crisis in 2008, with Pew surveys showing that more people now think China either already has or will eventually become the world’s dominant power.

Even in America, nearly half of respondents said China has or will replace the U.S. as the top global power.

Stokes said China’s rise could be a factor in its low favourability ratings: “When you’re considered the biggest guy on the block, you may not be liked,” he said.

The numbers of Chinese and Americans who hold positive views of the other country have plunged in the past two years. In Pew global survey results from two years ago, 51 per cent of Americans expressed a positive view of China compared with 37 per cent now. Similarly, 58 per cent of Chinese had a favourable opinion of America in 2010 while only 40 per cent do today.

Xu Guoqi, a Sino-foreign relations expert at the University of Hong Kong and author of Olympic Dreams, said that China’s global image suffers from a lack of direction in its foreign policy.

“The big problem with Chinese foreign policy is that it lacks long term thinking of [American] policies in the 19th and 20th centuries. China does not even have clearly defined national interests. For example, nobody today in Beijing can answer the following question: Whose interest is more important, the Communist Party's or national interest? What will the government do if there is clash between party's interest and national interest?”

Unsurprisingly, the Japanese have the lowest regard for China by a wide margin, with only 5 per cent expressing a positive view of China. The feeling is mutual. Only 4 per cent of Chinese see Japan favourably.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

John Adams
I have lived and worked in China - for over 25 years in fact. True, China does face some huge challenges and limits today, but that has always been the case .
Although sensationalist 'experts' write superficial articles with depressing frequency predicting the impending collapse of China ( or its govt, or its banking system, or.... it's whatever ) the fact is that China continues to grow from strength to strength and the rate of change in China for the better in the past 25 + years has been nothing less than spectacular.
One only has to extrapolate another 25+ years into the future to understand the validity of this Pew Research poll.
And one only has to understand a little of Chinese history, both ancient and modern, to understand that the rise of China is not a cause for fear, but rather for good and for hope
John Adams
Last time I checked, I found that countries are governed from planet Earth, not from planet Mars.
(Mind you, there's a few radical politicians in HK and a lot of American politicians I can name whom I would happily vote to send off on a one-way trip to go and govern Mars)

China does not know how to tell her story...even when she has a great story to tell!
the sun also rises
decades ago,this Old Hong Kong already read an authoritative report
saying that while the 19th century belonged to the British Empire and the
then 20th century belonged to the American Imperialists,the coming 21st
century will be Chinese.Napoleon once predicted that when the Dragon in
the East awakens,the world will be in shock.Now after the two wasteful wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan,the Great American Empire is found to be declining
in her economic and military strength while during the past years after the 9/11
Incident,China has emerged to be a new rising power and might really replace
America to be the sole superpower in coming decades.Just wait and see.
@Artline500: It's the exact American complacency and stupidity you have just demonstrated here that are leading your country to its own demise regardless who the next Superpower might be.
Whatever people think is going to happen often doesn't happen but we never seem to learn that. I'd say soft power is a serious issue for China, but if they can get it sorted then why not?
no concern there. US owns the "universal narrative". even SCMP's editorial is similar to NY Times, Wash Post. "liberty", "freedom" ....the works but what does "liberty/freedom" mean when your neighborhood drug gang is doing daily OK Coral. 30 millions people have no job, decaying/malfunctioning infrastructure, add in the obesity, narco drug addiction, the so called Obama "CHANGE". what does "liberty" mean? Pew Research regularly spins these "surveys", like asking a heroine addict if she feels "free" after that injection....this is why Brasilians ran out to protest even the country has more democracy than US (100% voter turnout). i won't waste time on these liberal american nonsense.....
Just let US keep the spot.... its too expensive period, eventually it will self destruct.
Obviousily you are soo informed. Yes maybe its time we consult your crystal ball
How often do we hear that "China will overtake America as the world superpower"? People have been "predicting" this for decades, even going as far as saying China will be the world's greatest power by the 2020's or 2030's. FYI, China is not even CLOSE to matching the USA in any major field. The only competition China sort of provides is via economy, however that alone is such a misleading representation of power! China's export economy is based almost entirely on low cost manufacturing. And as salaries in China increase, production costs will cause manufacturers in China to relocate to SE Asia.




SCMP.com Account