World welcomes China's economy, wary of military: Survey
Andrew Cawthorne, Reuters/London
The world has a broadly positive view of China's growing global clout, although enthusiasm for its economic influence is tempered by fear over its military potential, a new survey showed on Sunday.
The BBC World Service poll of nearly 23,000 people in 22 countries showed almost half -- 48 percent -- viewed the Asian power-house's influence overall as positive.
That was better than other global powers Russia, with a 36 percent positive rating, and the United States at 38 percent, but lower than Britain at 50 percent, the survey said.
Thirty percent thought China's influence was negative and 22 percent were non-committal.
Lebanon and the Philippines had the most benign view of China, with 74 percent and 70 percent respectively of those interviewed seeing its influence as positive.
Neighboring Japan had the lowest rating of China, with just 22 percent positive, followed by Poland with only 26 percent.
Asked what they think of China's growing economic power, 49 percent viewed it positively and 33 percent negatively.
But "economic power aside, most citizens around the world do not want to see Chinese military power grow," added a World Service statement on the survey conducted by international polling company GlobeScan with the University of Maryland.
Asked how they would feel if China becomes significantly more powerful militarily, the majority in 17 of the 22 countries replied negatively.
"China clearly has the respect of the world because of its exceptional economic achievements, and most people seem to hope for its continued economic success," GlobeScan president Doug Miller said. "However, citizens worldwide are hoping that China will pursue a soft-power approach."
In total, 59 percent of people disapproved of increased Chinese military power, with only 24 percent positive.
Most worried about Chinese military power were Germans at 87 percent, Australians at 79 percent, Japanese at 78 percent, Spanish at 76 percent and Americans at 75 percent.
India, with 56 percent positive, was the most welcoming of increased Chinese military power.
Steven Kull, director of Maryland University's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), said "cordial" world views of China clearly depended on its self-restraint.
"It is quite remarkable that with its growing economic power China is viewed as so benign, especially by its Asian neighbors that it could threaten or seek to dominate," he said.
"However, this cordial view from around the world does appear to depend on China restraining itself from seeking to convert its burgeoning economic power into a threatening military presence."
The poll was conducted between mid-November and early January.