Anti-US feelings ‘rising worldwide’

Pew poll reveals similar drop in popularity for China and Russia.

THE US image continues to take a beating in many parts of the world, according to an authoritative poll.

The Pew Global Attitudes Project found that other major powers such as China and Russia are growing to be unpopular as well.

The 47-country survey released on Wednesday also identified global warming and other environmental problems as the top threat in many countries, ahead of nuclear proliferation, Aids and other dangers.

Since it was launched in 2002, the poll has documented widespread anti-American sentiment. But this year, unease with US foreign policy and President George W. Bush has intensified in some of the closest American allies and other nations.

Indeed, support for the war in Iraq, Nato operations in Afghanistan, and the worldwide US effort against terrorism has declined over the last five years.

“Global distrust of American leadership is reflected in increasing disapproval of the cornerstones of US foreign policy,” Pew said in its report on the findings.

In the main, however, the US is viewed favourably in 25 countries, including India, Japan, Italy, Israel and many African nations where American culture and technology are admired.

But favourable ratings have declined in 26 of the 33 countries for which a comparison was available. Negative views are pervasive in most Muslim countries in the Middle East and in Asia.

The US is seen in a positive light by only 15 per cent of people in Pakistan. In Indonesia, it has declined from 65 per cent to 42 per cent over the last few years.

Significantly, the image of the US has worsened even among long-standing allies. In Britain, the ratings have dropped from 75 per cent in 2002 to 51 per cent now. And in Germany, it has slipped from 60 per cent to 30 per cent.

The US is not alone in drawing increasing ire of people worldwide.

The survey also found flagging appreciation for China, an emerging superpower.

Though more than half the nations polled have positive views of China, its image has widely worsened.

Favourable views of China have fallen in Western Europe, particularly in Germany and Spain, where there are fears over economic competition.

And while Beijing’s image is generally positive in Asia, it has grown somewhat more negative in India, which is also watching China’s burgeoning economy with fear.

In Japan, unease with Beijing’s growing military power contributed to rising unfavourable views that now outnumber positive ones by more than two to one.

Most countries still reported favourable opinions of China with public opinion particularly strong in Africa and Latin America. Importantly, in both regions, larger proportions of people say China’s influence is a “good thing” compared to American influence.

Russia and its President Vladimir Putin are also unpopular in many countries. Criticism is sharpest in Western Europe where many worry about over-dependence on Russian energy supplies.

Mr Putin saw a sharp decline in his favourability ratings, especially in Europe. In Germany, for example, 75 per cent viewed him favourably in 2003, but only 32 per cent this year.

Surveys in Britain, Germany and Canada revealed that only Mr Bush is trusted less on foreign policy than Mr Putin. About half of the respondents in America say they have little or no trust in either leader’s conduct of foreign affairs.

Overall, the Pew survey, which polled 45,000 people by phone and in person, found there is global unease with the major powers and their leaders.

Osama bin Laden was viewed favourably only in one place, the Palestinian territories, where 57 per cent said they had confidence in him. And leaders like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad found few admirers.

“The international system as we know it has broken down, according to these numbers,” said former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright at a press conference on the report. “It’s kind of a sense of nihilism.”

DOUBTS OVER U.S. LEADERSHIP

“Global distrust of American leadership is reflected in increasing disapproval of the cornerstones of US foreign policy.”
PEW RESEARCH CENTRE in its report

INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM IN CRISIS

“The international system as we know it has broken down, according to these numbers. It’s kind of a sense of nihilism.”
FORMER US SECRETARY OF STATE Madeline Albright

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