World Says China Will Overtake America

A new Pew Global Attitudes survey suggests that the perception of China overtaking the US continues to spread. But, as the Pew Research Center’s president notes at the Wall Street Journal, few see this as cause for celebration:

The emerging perception of China’s superpower status no doubt reflects global recognition of its growing economic might, and the fact that the U.S. is increasingly seen as trailing China economically. Nowhere is this more evident than in Western Europe, where the percentage naming China as the world’s “leading economic power” has increased markedly over the past two years, along with the view that it will ultimately eclipse the U.S. as global superpower ….

But not many are cheering. Unlike just a few years ago, when the publics of America’s oldest allies rued America’s power, they are now alarmed by its diminishing economic might. Among the pluralities who now see China as more economically powerful than the U.S., most view this as a bad thing—and by a 2-to-1 margin in France, Germany and Spain, for example ….

Outside the Muslim countries, … there is a general consensus that it would be bad if China were to rival the U.S. militarily. Eight in 10 Western Europeans subscribe to this view, and even majorities of Russians (57%) and Turks (54%) would disapprove of this development.

The American people, suffering through a weaker-than-expected recovery from the recession, are less upbeat about the state of the nation than they were a decade ago. And they are clearly troubled about America’s place in the world relative to China.

The survey also claims that China is one of the few countries in which the majority feel that things are on the right track. According to Pew’s polling, 85% expressed satisfaction with the country’s direction, and 88% were happy with its economic situation.

Only in a handful of countries do more than half express satisfaction with their country’s direction. Among these exceptions are China, Brazil, and India – all dynamic, emerging economic powerhouses, regionally and globally. In Egypt, too, there is substantial satisfaction with the country’s direction (65%), likely reflecting renewed optimism about the country’s future, following the democratic uprising earlier this year.