Countries prefer U.S. to China as leading superpower, poll finds

The new poll of nine big countries finds a strong preference for the US, rather than China, to be the leading superpower.

Why it matters: The Eurasia Group Foundation (EGF) poll is the latest signal that many around the world are viewing China’s rise with trepidation.

Breaking it down: Huge majorities in India, Nigeria, Poland and Brazil — and pluralities in Egypt and Mexico — think US influence in their region has generally been positive over the last 20 years.

  • In China, 62% believe it’s been negative.

That’s a relatively new phenomenon in China. When EGF first conducted this poll in 2019, just 17% of Chinese respondents had negative views of the US overall. Three years later, 45% of the.

  • Views of China in the US have grown more negative still, according to recent polls from Pew and Gallup.
  • Washington isn’t preferred over Beijing everywhere around the world. EGF found in 2021 that two-thirds of Russians would rather China be the leading global power.
  • Among the nine countries in the new EGF poll, the top reason for picking the US was that it’s a “trustworthy economic partner,” while the top reason for picking China was that it’s “a good example for national development.”

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

  • While the Jan. 6 hearings in Washington have highlighted the fragile state of American democracy, huge majorities in Nigeria, India, Poland, Brazil and Egypt view US democracy favorably and want their governing system to become more like America’s.
  • Even in China, 32% view “American ideas of democracy” favorably, though that’s down from 45% in 2019. Meanwhile, 28% want China’s government to become more like America’s.
  • American soft power remains strong. Big majorities in every country except Egypt believe US movies, music and TV have had a positive impact on their countries. That includes China.

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

  • Still, 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 questions).
  • By contrast, respondents in Poland, India, Nigeria and Brazil are overwhelmingly in favor of cooperation with the US military.
  • However in Egypt, a top recipient of US military aid, 60% view military collaboration with the US negatively.

More from the survey:

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

Full survey and methodology.

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