When it came to global goodwill, it was always a fight between the U.S. and Russia. But those days appear to be over—not because the U.S. is running away with the popularity contest, but because China is now in the running as the most favored world power.
When it comes to goodwill, the U.S. and China are on equal footing. China is well-liked in Latin America and the Middle East, while the U.S. is more popular in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
However, because of Trump’s image in the rest of the world, even that dynamic is shifting, as China is slowly closing the once-solid gap. China’s own popularity has gotten stronger in countries that once heavily favored the U.S., including Australia, Canada, Lebanon, and Turkey.
Over the last few years, Pew Research Center polled 36 nations and found that the number of countries in which the U.S. holds a competitive advantage over China in favorability has been cut in half, from 25 to 12.
Where the U.S. once had a 12-point lead over China in terms of a global median, that lead shrunk to just two points in 2017.
It gets worse. In six countries—Spain, Mexico, Turkey, Australia, Peru, and Senegal—the dynamic has done a complete 180, with China overtaking the U.S. in popularity.
The U.S.’s once-significant lead over China in popularity has slipped to a virtual tie in seven other countries: Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Kenya, Sweden, and the U.K.
The U.S. is still the most popular superpower in 12 nations, though: Columbia, Ghana, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, and Vietnam.
One superpower that is waning in global popularity and is viewed less favorably than the U.S. and China is Russia. That said, America’s recent decline in popularity has actually improved Russia’s standing when compared with that of the U.S.
America’s popularity over Russia has plunged by more than 20 percentage points in 15 out of 33 nations which view Russia favorably, including Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Italy, Spain, and Tanzania.
Not surprisingly, the popularity gap has narrowed the most between the U.S and Russia in Mexico, where the 42-point advantage the U.S. once held over Russia in 2015 has been wiped out. Mexicans now put Russia and the U.S. on the same plane when it comes to favorability.
“In global popularity contest, U.S. and China – not Russia – vie for first,” Pew Research Center, August 23, 2017.