Countries prefer US to China as top superpower, poll finds

A new poll of nine major countries reveals a strong preference for the United States, rather than China, as the top superpower.

Why is this important: The Eurasia Group Foundation (EGF) survey is the latest signal that many around the world view China’s rise with concern.

Break down : Huge majorities in India, Nigeria, Poland and Brazil – and pluralities in Egypt and Mexico – believe that American influence in their region has generally been positive over the past 20 years.

  • In China, 62% believe it has been negative.

It is a relatively new phenomenon in China. When the EGF first conducted this poll in 2019, only 17% of Chinese respondents had a negative view of the United States as a whole. Three years later, 45% do.

  • Opinions on China in the United States have become even more negative, according to recent polls by Bench and Gallup.
  • Washington is not preferred to Beijing anywhere in the world. The EGF found in 2021 that two-thirds of Russians would prefer China to be the world’s leading power.
  • Of the nine countries in the new EGF survey, the top reason for choosing the United States was that it was a “trustworthy economic partner”, while the top reason for choosing China was that it was “a good example for national development”.

EGF also asked about two other American exports: pop culture and “ideas of democracy”.

  • While the January 6 hearings in Washington highlighted the fragility of American democracy, huge majorities in Nigeria, India, Poland, Brazil and Egypt view American democracy favorably and want their system of government more like that of America.
  • Even in China, 32% view “American ideas of democracy” favorably, though that figure is down from 45% in 2019. Meanwhile, 28% want China’s government to be more like the US .
  • American soft power remains strong. Large majorities in all countries except Egypt believe that American movies, music and television have had a positive impact on their country. This includes China.

The trend: Favorable opinions of the United States have increased significantly in Germany, Japan and Mexico since Donald Trump left office.

  • Yet respondents in Japan and Germany tend to be ambivalent about American influence and military cooperation with their American allies. (Majorities in Japan are “neutral” on both issues).
  • On the other hand, respondents in Poland, India, Nigeria and Brazil are overwhelmingly in favor of cooperation with the US military.
  • However, in Egypt, one of the main recipients of American military aid, 60% view military collaboration with the United States negatively.

More Inquiry:

  • Majorities in every country think the US handled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine well, except in China (where responses are evenly split) and Japan (where a majority is “neutral”).
  • Perhaps surprisingly for Americans, 52% of respondents in the nine countries think the United States has handled the pandemic well, up from 41% in last year’s survey (respondents in China and Germany are the most skeptical).
  • Asked what their biggest concern is with the US system of government, the top answer across all nine countries was the income gap between rich and poor.

Comprehensive Survey and Methodology.

About Victoria Rothstein

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