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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 4:32pm
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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.

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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)
lib_prc

China does not know how to tell her story...even when she has a great story to tell!
hard times !
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.
bolshoi
@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.
VicSexton
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?
jayb
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.....
babyhenry
Just let US keep the spot.... its too expensive period, eventually it will self destruct.
babyhenry
Obviousily you are soo informed. Yes maybe its time we consult your crystal ball
johnh
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.
caractacus
You validate everything critics of the USA hold true, that your right wing electorate is nuts.
reggiedog
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.
caractacus
The opinions and perceptions of the uninformed are worthless. Let's not dwell on the USA's shortcomings because this is about China. What does China offer which will attract the rest of the world to it? Let's see, no rule of law, no elections, no civil liberties, no freedom of expression, rampant corruption, arbitrary government, racial exclusivity.
Yep, let's all emigrate there.
deendayal.lulla
China still has a long way to go,in becoming a superpower,which can match the USA militarily or economically. The US dollar is a global currency,whereas Chinese currency has to achieve this landmark. The US still attracts brains from all over the world.,especially from India. The software for digging the surface of Mars planet was developed by an Indian scientist working for NASA. The US has seven nuclear-powered aircraft carriers,whereas China has one,which is of no match to the USA. China is slowly making progress in military strength. We need a multi-polar world,for world peace. China should have asylum to Snowden.
norodnik
A map of this survey can be found here: www.pewglobal.org/2013/07/18/global-image-of-the-united-states-and-china/ . US less favourable to Argentina, Tunesia, Turkey, China, and Lebanon....rest of the world (surveyed) is favourable.... good night, Gracie....
johnyuan
I agree. But I don't know why. Chinese need to communicate effectively and efficently.
nickpal
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.
OldPeak Toad
Well, China already made it to fourth 'horniest country' - as duly reported in this SCMP tabloid. Keep working on it!
Artline500
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?????
rliu8
History has ways of repeating itself. China at one time was the greatest country on earth and it is just on the way returning to its original place. American and Europeans have dominated last few hundred years due to industrialization and the invention of guns. As a result, Anglo Saxon culture has spread worldwide due to over exposure of Hollywood media machine. It will some some more years, but the momentum for China to return to its place as the #1 country isn't too far away.
santini
If history is indeed repeating itself then all countries rise and fall many times. I don't think that the period of Mongol conquest is exactly a moment of "Chinese" Empire nor is the non-Han "Manchu" periods. Europe has had Rome, Macedonian empire under Alexander, Charlemagne, Iberian Reconquista. It also survived "barbarian" invasions, a failed crusade in the Middle East, much bloodshed for religious sectarianism called the reformation/couterreformation. Up and down, up and down. It's the process that counts not the end result.
rukezimyrageseso@tempomail.fr
**** you then
willis.forster
The opinion is right because we have elected a bunch of socialist morons that are destroying our country in the name of "change". A new administration will not be able to save us from decline because the damage done by unrestricted immigration and abortion can not be undone. Our culture is degraded, diseased, and embracing depravity. Great nations are not built on baby killing and sexual perversion.
santini
Dear Silent is the night,
Quoting Napoleon is not exactly helpful for your argument given how he ended up. Oh, and the U.S. is NOT an Empire, and it doesn't have an emperor.
hard times !
right,there is no emperor in the States, but Obama and his predecessors used to act like they rule the world and actually by its world-wide navy and her world-wide cybersurveillance done by her National Security Agency which is directly responsible to the President.
santini
Rule the world huh, wow I think you give foreigners too much credit. Navy's are obsolete. Militaries are giant jobs programs to keep millions of young men doing something. Officers at NSA can listen to anything they want but the question is, do they understand what they are listening to.
thynkaboutyt
Quotes from this link:
"In 28 of 38 nations, half or more of those surveyed express a favorable opinion of the U.S. And across these nations, a median of 63% have a positive view of America."
"China is viewed favorably in just 19 of 38 nations. Overall, a median of 50% have a positive view of China."
impala
I would really like to know who are the 30-odd% of misinformed people that believe China respects the personal freedom of its people. They definitely have some reading up to do about things in China like the one-child policy, media censorship, freedom of religion, the hukou system, the non-independent judiciary, expropriation practices, the Great Firewall, and so on.

Also, your text says that "95 per cent of nations think the US government respects its citizens’ personal freedoms." Your chart does not. It is all a little hard to see, but the chart would not have more than 70% of respondents saying 'Yes' to that statement. So 95% or 70%, which is it please?

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