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Unease about big powers 'rising'

BBC News | June 27, 2007

Worldwide opinion is increasingly wary of major powers and their leaders, a new global study suggests.

Anti-Americanism remains extensive, according to the global survey by the Pew Research Center in Washington.

At the same time, the image of China has slipped and confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin has declined sharply, the 47-nation study indicates.

Though he is popular within Russia, Mr Putin inspires worldwide concern almost on a par with the US leader, it says.

"Global distrust of American leadership is reflected in increasing disapproval of the cornerstones of US foreign policy," the annual Pew Global Attitudes Survey states.

'Abysmal image'

It says there is worldwide support for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, as well as "considerable opposition to US and Nato operations in Afghanistan".

In 25 of the 47 countries surveyed, majorities expressed positive views of the US, the study found.

However, it adds, the image of the US has declined in most parts of the world.

This image "remains abysmal" in most Muslim countries, including some US allies, according to the authors.

They say favourable views of the US have sunk to 9% in Turkey and 15% in Pakistan.

At the same time, the report contends, "China's expanding economic and military power is triggering considerable anxiety".

Favourable views of China have dropped sharply in Spain, Germany and France - to 39%, 34%, and 47% respectively - the survey says.

China's image is said to be generally positive in Asia, but to have grown more negative in India.

In Japan, unfavourable opinions about China outnumber positive ones by more than two-to-one (67-29%), the survey suggests.

It also points to negative opinions about Russia and President Putin in many countries.

"Criticism of that nation and its leader are sharpest in Western Europe where many citizens worry about overdependence on the Russian energy supply," the report states.

"For instance, despite sharp declines in favourable views of the US and Germany since 2002, Russia's image in those countries is no better."

Green worries

Confidence in Mr Putin's leadership, however, is strong in Russia itself (84%).

Just 45% of Americans say the same about President George W Bush.

The survey also finds a general increase in concern about environmental problems.

It says worries have risen sharply in Latin America, Europe, Japan and India.

"Many blame the United States - and to a lesser extent China - for these problems and look to Washington to do something about them," the report states.

The survey was conducted among more than 45,000 people in 46 countries, plus the Palestinian territories.

The margin of sampling error ranged from two percentage points to four percentage points, depending on the sample size.

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