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Posted at 4:14 PM ET, 01/13/2011

Pew poll shows shift in perceptions of world economic power from U.S. to China

By Ariana Eunjung Cha

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As President Obama heads into talks with his Chinese counterpart next week, nearly half of Americans say China is the world's leading economic power, while 31 percent picked the United States, according to a survey released this week.

Three years ago, before the global economic crisis, the numbers were almost the opposite, the Pew Research Center for People & the Press found. Only 30 percent said China was the global economic leader, versus 41 percent for the United States.

The current survey also showed that Americans see China's economic strength as a greater threat than its military strength and that a majority believe it's very important for the United States to get tougher with China on trade and economic issues.

The survey was conducted Jan. 5 to 9 among 1,503 adults.

More from the report:

Yet while Americans may see China as a problem, relatively few describe it as an adversary, and a 58% majority say it is very important to build a stronger relationship between the U.S. and China. By comparison, promoting human rights and better environmental policies and practices are important, but lower priorities.
American views of China are not extreme in a global perspective. A 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey found roughly half of Americans expressing a favorable opinion of China, while 36% said they felt unfavorably. In that survey, attitudes toward China were far more negative in France, Germany and Turkey, as well as among the publics of some of China's neighbors, such as Japan, South Korea and India. By contrast, China is viewed in an overwhelmingly favorable light in places like Kenya and Nigeria (where the U.S. is also viewed very favorably) as well as in Pakistan (where opinions of the U.S. are mostly negative).

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By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | January 13, 2011; 4:14 PM ET
Categories:  China  
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Next: Economic agenda: Friday, Jan. 14, 2011

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