Concerns about China’s policies on human rights have led to negative views toward the world’s most populous nation, a Pew public opinion survey has found.
Negative views of China remain at or near historic highs in many of the 19 countries polled in this year’s survey, which spoke to people in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. The findings are largely consistent with Pew’s previous study in 2020, but with some countries now reporting even more unfavorable views of China.
In the survey, a median of 79 percent of people across the countries said they considered China’s human rights policies a “serious problem.”
Respondents also expressed their concerns about China’s military power, with a median of 72 percent describing it as a “serious problem.”
The growing negative views of China’s human rights record mean that most of the people surveyed now favor promoting human rights over strengthening economic ties with China. This is particularly the case in European and North American democracies — but in Israel, the opposite is true.
Countries that have experienced deteriorating bilateral relations with China also report an emerging concern: Beijing’s involvement in their domestic politics. The suspicion of China is particularly widely shared in countries such as the US, Japan, Australia and South Korea.
On Tuesday, a separate survey by Sydney-based Lowy Institute showed that Australians’ negative views toward China continued to remain high.
“In 2022, two-thirds of Australians (63 percent) say China is ‘more of a security threat’ to Australia, while 33 percent say China is ‘more of an economic partner’ to Australia. Both of these figures have not changed since 2021,” the survey said.
In Asia, majorities in Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea favor strengthening their economic cooperation with the world’s second-largest economy, but countries such as Japan and Australia say they prefer prioritizing human rights over trade with China.
In South Korea, the Pew survey found that young people tended to have more unfavorable views of China than older people.
When asked about their views of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), the majorities in all countries surveyed — except Singapore and Malaysia — said they have little confidence in Xi’s way of dealing with global affairs.
The result is not surprising. In 2020, a similar Pew survey — from the UK to Australia — also showed that a median of 78 percent across 14 nations said they had “not too much or no confidence in Xi to do the right thing regarding world affairs.”
Despite concerns about China’s human rights record, a median of 66 percent across the countries surveyed said Beijing’s influence has become stronger in recent years.
“This is more than say the same of India or Russia ... and of the US, Germany, France and the UK,” the Pew study found.
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