Each year, the Pew Research Center conducts public opinion surveys worldwide on various topics, including health, happiness, and global affairs. Data is then compiled into Pew's Global Indicators Database.
Public sentiment is consistently among the most interesting findings. This year, as tensions between the U.S. and China reach previously unseen levels, two critical questions emerge: How is the established power viewed? How is the emerging power viewed?
Pew captures public opinion using the following matrix:
Please tell me if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of China/the U.S.
On the favorable-unfavorable continuum, public sentiment across the globe is strikingly clear. If goodwill were the deciding factor in this fast-moving, high-stakes contest, the United States would win by a country mile.
Do you have a favorable or unfavorable view of the U.S.?
Do you have a favorable or unfavorable view of China?
Two play, one wins
The world is understandably hesitant to accept an uncomfortable reality last seen during the Cold War. But the facts are clear: two nuclear powers, with opposing and perhaps incompatible visions for the future, are locked in fierce competition, and only one will win. Don't fool yourself into believing otherwise.
When economies, financial markets, and politics are fully global, as they are now, the question is whether being viewed favorably by other nations is a perceived or actual advantage. With Xi's China cracking down at home and lashing out abroad, we may find out before long.