This post was edited by nealrussel at 2013-7-30 14:20|
According to the results of a survey done by US think tank organization the Pew Research Center which were released on July 18, more and more people believe that China will eclipse the US as the world’s number one superpower. Although the survey showed that most people in the 22 out of the 39 countries surveyed believed America was still the number one economic superpower, participants quizzed in Canada, the UK, Germany and France all stated that they thought China was catching up fast. One of the most shocking findings of the survey was that when asked which of the two countries had the biggest economy, 44% of American participants thought that China had the biggest economy while only 39% believed America was still on top. Despite this shift in opinions however, many people who were quizzed did express a clear preference to America over China, citing various cultural and economical factors as their reasons for this. This goes on to cast doubt over whether China will ever truly eclipse America as the world’s number one superpower regardless of its economic growth.
The gap between rich and poor
At the same time that the Pew report was released, details of a study by Peking University about the wealth gap in China was published. The report showed that compared to the US, the gap between the rich and the poor in China was much larger. The Southern Metropolis Daily, which published the details of the report, also reiterated that income disparity was also a major factor in determining the economic differences between the US and China. At the end of 2012, annual income for the poorest 5% of China’s households accounted for only 0.1% of the country’s total household income. In contrast, annual income for the top 5% of China’s high-earning families accounted for a staggering 23.4% of the national figure, 234 times greater than the annual household income generated from the aforementioned lower-end families.
Considering facts such as the these, the Pew report showed that when asked on whether or not they had a “positive feeling” towards the two countries, 63% said yes to America, while only 50% said the same for China. Despite there being a recent current of increased anti-American sentiment across the world in recent years, the US still scored higher marks than China regarding its popularity, which many have put down to the notion that the US government respects its citizen’s individual freedom.
Experts: China won’t overtake America in every aspect
Many economists believe that within the next few years, China will only eclipse the US in terms of the size of its economy. Many have expressed doubt regarding whether or not China can overtake America in terms of its cultural, diplomatic and economic influence on the rest of the world. The Pew Research Center found that in developing countries in Latin America and Africa (where China has a notable economic presence), participants of the survey explained that while they respected China’s technological progress, they had little interest in its music and cinema. China’s image in Europe has seen a steady decrease in the last few years, with positive opinions towards the country dropping by 11% and 9% in the UK and France alone. Analysts believe that this is due to worries regarding China’s increasing presence as an international business competitor as well as China’s supposed unilateral approach to foreign affairs involving Europe. Regarding their positive feelings towards the US, Greece was the only EU country where more than half its citizens stated they had a stronger liking for China, though even countries which had previously shown a liking towards China displayed negative patterns regarding their view of the country. Positive opinions towards China in Egypt dropped from 57% to 45% following Pew’s study, though the figure is still a lot higher than preference towards America in the North African country, with only an average of 16% saying they prefer the US over China.
Recent political events also a factor
The Pew Research Center report showed that there were large contrasts between how different countries viewed China and America. Only 11% of those quizzed in Pakistan, who largely see China as their main allies, said they preferred the US to China; a stark contrast to the 81% who said they had a positive view of China. Despite this however, many of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region showed almost unrivalled support towards America. Although two thirds of Australians quizzed said that they believed China would overtake the US as the world’s top superpower, only an average of one third asked in Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines said the same. Recent strains in bilateral relations with neighboring countries is seen as one of the catalysts towards China’s bad reputation in the area, with only 5% of Japanese people asked saying they had a good impression of China. Additionally, 90% of Japanese people surveyed believe that China’s increasing military strength is a bad thing; a number that is only eclipsed by South Korea, where 91% also expressed this concern.
One thing which should perhaps be noted is that the survey was carried out between March and April 2013, which was before the eruption of significant recent world events such as the Edward Snowden saga and the military coup in Egypt. From this, one can conclude that current affairs deeply affect a country’s international reputation. However, regardless of China’s economic progress, it does seem that it has a long way to go in order to truly overtake America as the world’s top superpower.