As President Obama prepares to host Chinese President Hu Jintao next week, Americans increasingly see Asia as the region of the world that is most important to the United States. While Americans see China as a rising global power, relatively few characterize the U.S.-China relationship as adversarial; China is seen primarily as an economic threat, rather than a military one.
The public wants increased trade with Canada, Japan and several other countries (China and South Korea being notable exceptions), but support for free trade agreements is at a 13-year low, and more say trade agreements have negative rather than positive impact on jobs, wages and economic growth.
A new survey of both the public and members of the Council on Foreign Relations finds an increasingly isolationist sentiment among Americans. The public also differs with CFR members on increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, the threat posed by China and the use of torture.
In many countries opinions of the United States are now about as positive as they were at the beginning of the decade before George W. Bush took office. Improvements in the U.S. image have been most pronounced in Western Europe, where favorable ratings for both the nation and the American people have soared. But opinions of America have also become more positive in key countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, as well. Signs of improvement in views of America are seen even in some predominantly Muslim countries.
Despite the economic recession, support for free trade agreements is up by nine percentage points -- from 35% to 44% -- putting positive opinions of trade back in line with long-term trends. People in low-income families and Democrats are much more supportive of trade now than they were a year ago.
Well before the current economic crisis circled the globe, publics worldwide were well aware that U.S. economic conditions affected their own economies. Most -- including the U.S. itself -- viewed that influence in a negative light.
Enthusiasm for economic globalization has waned considerably over the last few years in many wealthy nations, but survey research suggests that most average citizens around the world embrace the idea of a globalized world, albeit cautiously.
A 47-nation survey finds broad support for the key tenets of economic globalization, including free trade, multinational corporations and free markets. Yet concerns exist about inequality, threats to traditional culture, threats to the environment and threats posed by immigration.
Even in some countries where incomes are still low and life is tough, people tend to be happier with their lives -- if their economy is on the upswing. And, in Muslim countries, support for suicide bombing has declined sharply in recent years. Also, a commentary by Bruce Stokes analyzes factors contributing higher levels of happiness in many countries worldwide.
Most in public call news about safety issues involving Chinese imports accurate and appropriate in amount. Traditional media are also the main source of news about the latest in hi-tech communications: the iPhone.