China's popularity crashes

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2008 (AFP) - China’s popularity around the world is on the decline amid concerns over unsafe products, military prowess and economic power ahead of the summer Olympics, a survey suggested on Thursday.

``Positive views fell significantly in nine of 21 countries in which polls were taken in 2007, as well as the current survey,’’ said the Pew Global attitudes project, which surveyed 24,000 people in 24 countries.

``Opinions of China tumbled the most in France (47 percent to 28 percent) and in Japan (20 percent to 14 percent).’’

Among the key areas of concern were China’s growing economy and military abilities.
Negative views of China's military prowess are common in the US and Europe -- more than seven in 10 in the US, France, Britain, Germany, Spain, Russia and Poland consider it a bad thing for their own countries,'' the report said. Japan showed the highest rate of concern (90 percent) and South Korea, where 87 percent see China's rising military strength as a bad thing for their country. Eight-two percent of Americans said China's military power was a bad thing, while views of the economy showed more of a divide -- 35 percent saying it was a good thing for America and 53 percent viewing it as a bad thing. Generally, publics around the world find China’s growing economic power less troubling than its increasing military strength,’’ it said.
Majorities of those polled in Pakistan, Lebanon, Indonesia, Jordan, Australia and Brazil as well as Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria said China’s economy had a positive effect on their countries.
One the other hand, majorities in France, Germany, South Korea and the United States saw China’s economic power as a bad thing.
The survey also found considerable skepticism about the quality of Chinese products,'' particularly in the United States where nearly three in four people view Chinese products as less safe than products made elsewhere. In 19 of 24 countries, at least half of those surveyed say Chinese products are generally less safe than those produced elsewhere,’’ it said. The notable exception was in China itself, where 65 percent said Chinese products were just as safe.
The poll was taken March 17-April 21 – after China’s March crackdown on dissidents in Tibet, and before the devastating earthquake on May 12 in Sichuan province.
When it came to the Olympic Games, hosted by Beijing this summer, ``international opinion largely approves,’’ Pew said, noting that 14 of 23 countries showed majorities saying the move was a good thing.