While global attitudes toward the United States have been on the upward trend this year, a majority of public opinion around the world view China in an unfavorable light, according to a new study from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
Last year, at the onset of the pandemic, Pew reported that negative attitudes toward both the U.S. and China were at historic highs. Today’s new study, which surveyed 18,850 people in 17 advanced economies around the world from February to May of 2021, indicates that positive views about the U.S. have rebounded across the countries surveyed while last year’s negative views of China remain virtually unchanged.
Negative views of both China and the U.S. shot up last year in light of both countries’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pew reports. China has remained the subject of international scrutiny since the outbreak of the virus abroad — with global confidence in President Xi Jinping stagnant and close to historic lows across the countries surveyed.
On the other hand, international views of the U.S. drastically changed after President Joe Biden came into office. When former President Donald Trump was in office, majorities in Western Europe viewed President Xi’s leadership in a better light than his. Now, majorities in each of the 17 countries surveyed say they believe in Biden’s ability to “do what is right in world affairs” — with over three quarters of survey respondents in the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Italy and Australia in agreement. This is a major uptick in positive public opinion toward the U.S. for Sweden in particular, as only 15% of survey respondents in Sweden expressed confidence in Trump last year.
A few countries strayed from these trends. New Zealand, for instance, was the only country included in the survey that did not have a majority of respondents report positive attitudes toward the U.S. In regard to China, Greece and Singapore were the only countries surveyed that had a majority of respondents report positive attitudes toward China.
Although public opinion in the 17 countries surveyed hold a more positive view of the U.S. overall, Japan is the only country whose survey respondents view the U.S. as better at handling the pandemic than China. Across the 17 publics, a median of 49% of respondents approved of China’s pandemic response compared to a median of 37% for the U.S. response. Regardless, the survey reports that both countries’ pandemic response ratings have increased since 2020.
In regard to human rights, the U.S. also fared better than China. Across all of the publics surveyed, a majority of people believe that China does not respect the personal freedoms of its people — with a median of 88% sharing this view.
These negative views of China seep into respondents’ economic views, too. Despite the fact that more people named China as a leading economic superpower than the U.S. in 2020, majorities across all of the countries surveyed besides Singapore and New Zealand prioritized their country having economic ties with the U.S. over economic ties with China.
The findings from Pew reinforce global public opinion findings of the U.S. and China in the past year. Last October, nearly 40 countries criticized China over its treatment of minority groups, as well as the establishment of a new national security law imposed in Hong Kong. Additionally, China ranked last among a group of 78 countries for being seen to care about human rights, according to the findings in the U.S. News 2021 Best Countries report, a survey of more than 17,000 people around the world.
In the same Best Countries report, just 52.5% of respondents globally view the U.S. as a good role model for a functioning democracy, with the most skepticism coming from America’s allies, including New Zealand and Canada.
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U.S. Public Image Recovers After 2020 While China Remains Negative originally appeared on usnews.com