• Wed
  • Oct 1, 2014
  • Updated: 5:01am

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

In Hawthorne California there is a private company, SpaceX, where they are working on various projects one of which is the colonization of Mars. In our lifetimes. They already service the Space Station at 2/7 the cost of a Soyuz flight. China hasn't even landed a man on the moon yet! Are you kidding me?????
@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.
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)
I'd be interested in the results for people who have actually lived and worked in China, who have some understanding of the scale of the challenges and limits there.
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

China does not know how to tell her story...even when she has a great story to tell!
I agree. But I don't know why. Chinese need to communicate effectively and efficently.
China has an amazing story to tell, however, a certain amount of thanks need to be given to Taiwan for preserving the Chinese story rather than previous attempts that systematically tried to destroy it. Perhaps Taiwan can help the mainland rediscover China's amazing history. Surely, an understanding and respect for the past will aid in China's continued ascendency and inevitable place on top. As a caveat, one must also be cognizant of the old saying "be careful what you wish for, you might end up getting it". In modern times, Spain, France, UK, US, etc. have all had or still have their places in the sun, but when one is on top, regardless of brutality or benevolence, they become the bad guy to the rest of the world. And, as I know as an American, we have this underlying desire to see the guy on top fail, even if the guy on top happens to be ourselves. I don't think we're unique in this regard.




SCMP.com Account