The People of the World Tentatively Welcome Their New Chinese Overlords 

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July 15 2014 2:03 PM

The People of the World Tentatively Welcome Their New Chinese Overlords 

New data from the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project shows that while public opinion around the world is becoming more solidly opposed to drones and NSA surveillance, overall views of the United States haven’t changed that much.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

Majorities oppose the use of drones in every one of the 40 countries surveyed except the United States, Israel, and Kenya. Strong majorities oppose NSA surveillance on foreign citizens, U.S. citizens, or foreign leaders. Foreign publics are also losing faith in the U.S. government’s protection of its own citizens’ freedoms.

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All the same, 65 percent of people in 43 countries still have a positive opinion of the U.S., basically unchanged since last year. President Obama has a 56 percent approval rating abroad, significantly down from the good old days of 2009, but foreigners still feel more positively about America’s president than Americans do.

Russia, not surprisingly, showed the biggest drop in views of the U.S., while—somewhat bizarrely—we’re a lot more popular in China, France, and the Palestinian territories.

On the other hand, there’s a growing international consensus that China is supplanting America’s international role. “The median percentage naming the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power has dropped from 49% six years ago to 40% today. During the same period, the percentage naming China has risen from 19% to 31%,” write Pew’s analysts. In Europe, a majority already see China as the world’s top economic power.  A strong majority (50 percent) worldwide believe China will eventually take the top spot: 

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So how do the people of the world feel about their new Chinese overlords? It’s a mixed bag. In Europe and Latin America, the U.S. is significantly more popular than China. In the Middle East, China is more popular. In Asia and Africa, it’s mixed: 

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Also, strong majorities in a number of Asian countries including India, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines are concerned about territorial disputes with China.

On the other hand, about 53 percent worldwide say China’s economic growth is a good thing for their country. Plus, people around the world between 18 and 29 have significantly more positive views of both the U.S. and China than their elders. So perhaps there’s some hope for a bipolar world after all.