A new Pew Center poll asked 37,653 people from 39 different countries their opinions on a variety of topics concerning the United States and China. The survey found the world views the United States more favorably than China, but believes China has or will soon become the world's leading power.
Across the board 63 percent of respondents have a positive opinion of the United States, while only 50 percent have a positive opinion of China. Still, 47 percent of respondents believe China has or will soon overtake the United States as the world's top power. Only three nations — Japan, the Philippines and Egypt — have a majority that believes China will never overtake the United States.
The United States is most unpopular in the Middle East and almost every nation condemns the country's use of drone strikes in places like Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. Only Israel, the United States itself and Kenya support the strikes. Israel is the only Middle Eastern nation with a positive view of the United States, at 83 percent. Meanwhile, every single Middle Eastern country except Israel has a positive opinion of China.
In Africa, despite huge investments from China in the last decade, more countries still view the United States more positively than China. This is especially true when comparing soft power. African countries prefer America's “way of doing business” over China's and tend to appreciate American democratic ideals.
China beats the United States in Latin America, where every country except Brazil, El Salvador and Mexico believes China has a more positive influence on society in general.
The favorability of the United States in general has been dropping since 2009. Every country of the 39 surveyed has a less favorable opinion of US President Barack Obama than they did in 2009.
China's favorability has remained largely unchanged. No country's favorability rating of China grew more than 10 points, except for Argentina and Uganda. China's strongest reviews come from South America, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The world disapproves of both the US and China's perceived unilateral action when forming foreign policy. The major source of negativity for the United States comes from its engagement in the Middle East, while China is most hurt in its territorial disputes in East Asia.
More nations are beginning to see China as the world's leading power. In 2008, 47 percent saw the United States as the world's leading economic power, while 20 percent thought China held the top slot. Today 41 percent say the United States, while 34 percent say China.
Despite the growing economic influence of China and the waning favorability of the United States, 70 percent of respondents believe the United States has more respect for personal freedom than China. In fact, no country had a majority that believed the United States does not respect its citizens personal freedoms.