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China tops US in survey on leadership

Chen Weihua
Updated: Jan 20,2018 9:40 AM     China Daily

More people in the world approved of China’s leadership than US leadership in 2017, according to a Gallup poll released on Jan 18.

The Gallup World Poll found the median approval of US leadership at 30 percent, trailing 31 percent for China.

The US approval rating hit an all-time low, down by 18 percentage points from the 48 percent during former president Barack Obama’s last year in office and four points lower than the previous low of 34 percent during former president George W. Bush’s last year in office, Gallup said in a news release on its website.

Disapproval of US leadership climbed. The 43 percent median disapproval — 15 percentage points higher than the previous year — set a record as well, not only for the United States but for any other major global power that Gallup has asked about in the past decade.

Comparatively, China boasts an edge with its worldwide disapproval rating of only 30 percent.

US leadership approval ratings declined by 10 percentage points or more in 65 of the 134 countries and areas in which the survey was conducted. They declined the most among residents of allies and partners in the Americas and Europe, according to the poll conducted between March and November last year.

Comparatively, China performed better, with 28 percent approval and 35 percent disapproval in the Americas.

The approval rating of US leadership declined nearly as much in Europe as it did in the Americas, to 25 percent. It declined substantially in 21 out of the 28 current members of the European Union.

China tied the US, with the same 25 percent approval rating in Europe. But China’s disapproval rating there of 48 percent was lower than the 56 percent for the US.

The US also suffered a major drop in its leadership approval in Asia.

Overall, 30 percent of those surveyed in Asia approved of US leadership, while 32 percent approved of China’s leadership. The US disapproval rating in the region was 39 percent, while China’s was 31 percent.

Of the four countries that were the focus of the Gallup survey, Germany was at the top, with an approval rating of 41 percent. Russia’s was 27 percent.

The margin of error across the total sample ranged from plus or minus 2 percentage points to plus or minus 5.1 points, Gallup said.

The Gallup results were based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with around 1,000 adults ages 15 and older in each of the countries or areas included in the survey. Residents in 134 countries or regions were asked to rate US, German and Russian leadership, while residents in 135 countries or regions were asked to rate the leadership of China, according to Gallup.

In its analysis, the Gallup report criticized Trump for keeping his campaign promise to put “America First” in his foreign policy.

“In doing so, he walked away from key institutions and alliances in 2017 that he felt didn’t serve US interests, including abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and withdrawing from the global climate agreement. He further rankled relations with neighbors Canada and Mexico, repeatedly threatening to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and insisting that Mexico would pay for a wall along their shared border,” the report says.

The US government received worldwide condemnation in December for its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Its withdrawal from UNESCO and cutting of funding to the United Nations also received negative response in the global community.

Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, believes the US global leadership has become worse for the most part. “The bottom line is that the United States has added a degree of unreliability,” Haas said about Trump’s first year in office in a CFR podcast on Jan 16.