Social networking has spread around the world with remarkable speed, and large numbers in many nations are posting their views about pop culture online, while community issues, sports and politics are also popular topics. Meanwhile, as cell phones have become nearly ubiquitous, people are using them in a variety of ways, including texting and taking pictures, and many smart phone users also access job, consumer and political information.
While China prepares for a leadership change, the Chinese people believe their country is facing growing challenges, including rising prices, inequality, corruption, and consumer safety. The Chinese public is also increasingly expressing reservations about relations with the U.S.
While nearly two-thirds of Americans describe relations between the U.S. and China as good, most are concerned about China’s growing economic strength. Compared with the general public, U.S. foreign affairs experts are less likely to see China as an economic threat and less concerned about Beijing’s rising power.
The economic euphoria in India over the last few years, inspired by the country’s seemingly inevitable march toward double-digit growth, has soured. Although still relatively upbeat compared with many other countries, the Indian public’s confidence in their country’s direction and future economic growth has declined significantly.
The economic mood is exceedingly glum around the world. Across the 21 countries surveyed, a median of just 27 percent think their national economy is doing well. Only in China, Germany, Brazil and Turkey do most people report that current national economic conditions are good.
More than a year after the first stirrings of the Arab Spring, there continues to be a strong desire for democracy in Arab and other predominantly Muslim nations. A substantial number in key Muslim countries also want a large role for Islam in political life. Meanwhile, few think the U.S. favors democracy in the Middle East.
Following a year of tensions between their country and the United States, Pakistanis continue to hold highly unfavorable views of the U.S. and offer bleak assessments of the relationship between the two nations. And President Obama is held in exceedingly low regard. Additionally, over the last few years, Pakistanis have become less willing to work with the U.S. on efforts to combat extremist groups.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is widely unpopular in neighboring countries and the vast majority of Jordanians, Egyptians, Tunisians and Turks would like to see him step down. Even though many would like to see Assad out of office, there is limited support for tougher international economic sanctions or Arab military intervention, and very little support for Western military action.
As Felipe Calderón’s term as Mexico’s president draws to a close, Mexicans continue to strongly back his policy of deploying the military to combat the country’s powerful drug cartels, despite public unease about the moral cost of the drug war. Meanwhile, a majority of Mexicans say they have a positive opinion of the U.S.
Global approval of President Barack Obama’s international policies has declined significantly since he first took office, while overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. have slipped modestly as a consequence. In nearly all countries surveyed, there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes.
Seven-in-ten Japanese say their country should reduce its reliance on nuclear energy. Skepticism about nuclear power is coupled with widespread dissatisfaction with the government’s performance: eight-in-ten say the government has done a poor job dealing with the Fukushima crisis and six-in-ten disapprove of how Tokyo has handled the overall recovery from the earthquake and tsunami.
In Europe, there is a crisis of confidence in the economy, in the future, in the benefits of European economic integration, in EU membership, in the euro and in the free market system. The crisis has also exposed sharp differences between some Europeans, especially the Germans and Greeks.
A solid majority of Russians see attending protests as an opportunity to speak out about how the government is run, and more than half specifically approve of the mass demonstrations that followed the December 2011 parliamentary vote, which was marred by fraud allegations. Nonetheless, 72% of Russians voice a favorable opinion of Vladimir Putin.
Ahead of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, a 21-nation survey finds that most publics around the world are broadly opposed to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, and many support economic sanctions to prevent such an acquisition. Opinion is more divided on whether military intervention should be used, especially among the six E3+3 negotiating partners.
A year after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a new nationwide survey finds that Egyptians remain upbeat about the course of the nation and prospects for progress. Most Egyptians continue to support democracy, and most also want Islam to play a major role in society.
A year after the death of Osama bin Laden, a new survey of Muslim publics shows al Qaeda is widely unpopular, with majorities expressing negative views of the terrorist group in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon. Furthermore, before his death in 2011, support for bin Laden himself had waned considerably among Muslims around the world.