China’s image in developed countries has “worsened” since Chinese President Xi Jinping took office in 2013, something that has worsened with the covid-19 disease pandemic, according to a study by the Pew Research Center today.
The study, which is published just weeks before the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is expected to award Xi Jinping a third term as secretary-general, is based on 20 years of research in more than 60 countries.
The covid-19 disease pandemic, whose first cases were diagnosed in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, affected the country’s image, but negative sentiment towards China was already on the rise before 2020, according to Pew. Research Center, a Washington-based institute.
While there are slight variations, most countries followed the same trend as the United States of America (USA), where sentiments towards China began to change after the start of Xi Jinping’s term and worsened sharply after the start of the pandemic.
When Xi took office during former US President Barack Obama’s second term, about four out of 10 people in the US held a “favorable” view of China, while between 30% and 40% of respondents held a “favorable” view. “unfavorable” of the country.
But as friction in the bilateral relationship grew over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and trade issues, the percentage of Americans with an unfavorable opinion of China rose to more than half.
Opinion on China showed a slight improvement during the first half of Donald Trump’s presidency but quickly soured with the trade war launched by Washington in 2018.
In March 2020, when outbreaks of covid-19 began to be detected in several countries, more than three-quarters of the US population viewed China unfavorably.
China’s reputation has continued to decline, and today, some 82% of the US population has a negative opinion of the Asian country, as concerns about human rights abuses or the alignment between Beijing and Moscow grow.
In other countries, although the indicators show similar trends, the opinion about China varied according to the bilateral relationship.
In South Korea, negative sentiments rose sharply after the economic boycott launched by China in 2017 in retaliation for Seoul’s decision to allow the deployment of missile interception technology, known as THAAD, on its territory.
Opinion has worsened during the pandemic, with around 80% of the South Korean population currently having an unfavorable view of the neighboring country.
In Japan, that number rises to 87%, according to research by the American institute.
In Australia, 86% of Australians currently view China unfavorably, up from 24% since 2019.
While noting that most of the negative feelings are directed at the Chinese government or Xi Jinping, the study points to increasing discrimination and harassment of people of Chinese descent in the US and other countries since the beginning of the pandemic.
In 2022, 67% of US respondents considered China a major threat, up 19% from the previous year.
Nearly half of respondents said limiting China’s power and influence should be a top US foreign policy goal – up 16% from 2021.
Concerns about the modernization of the Chinese military were also widespread, with 72% of respondents in 19 countries responding that Beijing’s military might is a “serious problem”. Japan and Australia are the two countries where the percentage is highest.
The issue of human rights is also crucial to the deterioration of China’s image.
“While it was already high in most advanced economies, the feeling that China does not respect individual freedoms increased significantly in 2021, after revelations about detention camps for [Muslim ethnic minority] Uighurs, and after the US designated the situation in Xinjiang as genocide,” the Pew Research Center report said.
Opinions on Xi Jinping followed the same trend.
“Opinions about the Chinese president became even more negative between 2019 and 2020. In 2022, most developed countries, with the exception of two, had little or no confidence in his approach to international issues,” the study by the northern institute also pointed out. -American.
Since coming to power, Xi Jinping has reversed several political reforms and is now the core of Chinese politics. Under his leadership, the CCP regained absolute control over society, education or the economy.
In October, he is expected to break with the political tradition of the last decades, by obtaining a third term as secretary general of the CCP, at the 20th Party Congress (scheduled to start on October 16).
Source: With Agencies