Non-partisan American “fact-tank” Pew Research surveyed 14,276 adults in 14 countries between June and August, primarily by telephone due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Among the countries surveyed were the US, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom.
“The major finding is that unfavorable views of China are rising precipitately and this is tied to the fact that China has not done a good job handling the coronavirus,” said Laura Silver, senior researcher at Pew and co-author of the report.
Of the 14 countries polled by Pew Research, every one had a majority negative view of China. In every country except for France, Japan and Italy, Beijing’s reputation was at its lowest point on record.
Pew Research began to survey global opinions of China and other major world powers in 2002 but not every country has been polled every year. Respondents in Denmark and Belgium were polled for the first time this year.
Some of the drops in favorable opinions toward China have been sharp. For example, in 2017, 64% of Australians surveyed said they felt positively toward their largest trading partner — three years later, only 14% feel the same way. Now, 81% have an unfavorable opinion of China.
There were similar results in the UK. In 2018, 49% of those surveyed said they had a favorable opinion of China, compared to just 35% with an unfavorable view. Now 74% of British citizens polled say they have a negative view of China.
Silver said that originally the researchers had intended to survey 50 countries as part of their research, “the vast majority of which would have been with face to face survey methods,” but had been forced to reduce their polling to just 14 nations in the wake of the coronavirus.
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to blame for some of the rapid fall in China’s favorability ratings, according to the survey. Across the 14 countries polled, 61% of respondents said that Beijing had handled the viral outbreak poorly.
But sentiment toward China was already souring in 2019, the survey found, before the pandemic began.
The only world leader who had a worse reputation than Xi was US President Donald Trump.