Washington: China’s global image took a “precipitously more negative” turn after President Xi Jinping took office in 2013, with Beijing taking the blame for the Covid-19 pandemic while also facing criticism for its human rights record, military posture and economic policies, data from a Washington-based research group showed, a media report said.
Ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th National Congress in October, the Pew Research Center published a report drawing on 20 years of surveys from more than 60 countries, RFA reported.
China’s perceived mishandling of the pandemic affected global opinion, but negative feelings toward China were already on the rise prior to 2020, the report said.
Though there was slight variation from country to country, most countries followed the same trend as the US, where positive feelings toward China started to turn after Xi’s tenure began and worsened sharply around the time the pandemic started.
China was perceived to have growing international influence among 66 per cent of people in 19 countries, while 12 per cent believed it was getting weaker. At least half of the respondents in 24 of the 40 countries surveyed in 2015 said China was on pace to replace the US as the world’s strongest superpower, or had already done so, RFA reported.
In 2018, half or more of the respondents in South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia and the US said that China was a major threat. Outside of those countries, half or more considered it at least a minor threat.
In many of the surveyed countries, the sense that China does not respect human rights was at or near historic highs, RFA reported.
“Although the sense that China did not respect the personal freedoms of its people was already high in most advanced economies in 2018, it nonetheless rose significantly again in 2021, following revelations about detention camps for Uyghurs, the US declaring the situation in Xinjiang a genocide and calls to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics over human rights abuses, among other issues,” the Pew report said.