Oct 5, 2018 - World

Allies sour on U.S. but fear China more

Adapted from Pew Research Center; Note: Survey of 25 countries. "Don't know", "Both", and "Neither" responses not shown; Axios Visuals

Many of America's closest allies tend to view China more favorably than the U.S. and have more confidence in Xi Jinping than Donald Trump, according to an annual survey from the Pew Research Center. But when asked whether the world would be better off with the U.S. or China as the leading global power, respondents overwhelmingly choose the U.S.

Why it matters: The U.S. is far less popular around the world than it was before Trump took office, and the decline has been particularly sharp in countries like the U.K., Germany and Canada. That stands to benefit America's rivals for global influence, but these numbers reveal widespread wariness of a China-led world.

By the numbers ...

  • Across the 25 countries polled, just 27% of respondents on average have confidence in Trump to "do the right thing regarding world affairs," compared to 34% for Xi. 
    • Even Russia's Vladimir Putin wins more confidence than Trump — he came in at 30%.
    • All three lag far behind Germany's Angela Merkel (52%) and France's Emmanuel Macron (46%).
  • The U.S. is viewed more favorably than China by a narrow margin (50% vs. 45%) across the 25 countries. But it is China that comes out narrowly ahead among allies like Canada, Germany and France.
    • The U.S. is viewed far more favorably than China in some Asian countries — particularly Japan, where just 17% have a favorable view of China. China polls higher in Latin America.
  • Pew also asked respondents who they thought the world's leading economic power was. The U.S. (39%) was the top answer, followed by China (34%). 
    • But when asked whether countries have become more or less influential over the past decade, 70% said China compared to 31% for the U.S.

Worth noting: Pew also asked whether respondents thought the U.S. and China respect the "personal freedoms" of their citizens. The vast majority said China does not, except in Africa, where majorities in all four countries polled believe China does respect personal liberties.

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