Jun 24, 2005 6:04 pm


Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan "fact tank" in Washington, DC, that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The latest survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, conducted among nearly 17,000 people in the United States and 15 other countries from April 20-May 31, 2005 finds that America’s image is strongest in India. Fully 71% in India express a positive opinion of the United States, compared with 54% three years ago.

But the United States remains broadly disliked in most countries surveyed, and the opinion of the American people is not as positive as it once was.

Strikingly, China now has a better image than the US in most of the European nations surveyed.

The survey finds that while China is well-regarded in both Europe and Asia, its burgeoning economic power elicits mixed reactions. Majorities or pluralities in France and Spain believe that China’s growing economy has a negative impact on their countries. Respondents in the Netherlands and Great Britain have much more positive reactions to China’s economic growth. Public opinion in the U.S. on this issue is divided ­ 49% view China’s economic emergence as a good thing, while 40% say it has a negative impact on the US. By a margin of 53% to 36%, Indians see benefits to themselves in China’s economic emergence.

Whatever their views on China’s increasing economic power, European publics are opposed to the idea of China becoming a military rival to the U.S, despite their deep reservations over American policies and hegemony. Solid majorities in every European nation ­ except Turkey ­ believe that China’s emergence as a military superpower would be a bad thing. In Turkey and most other predominantly Muslim countries, where antagonism toward the U.S. runs much deeper, most people think a Chinese challenge to American military power would be a good thing. India’s population is evenly split, with 45% judging it a good thing, and 45% a bad thing.

Majorities in India (63%) and China (53%) believe the U.S. takes their respective countries’ interests into account at least a fair amount.

However, the Chinese are largely critical of Americans. They are the least likely of these 16 publics to consider Americans hardworking (44%) and just over a third (35%) see Americans as honest. A majority of Chinese associate Americans with being violent (61%) and greedy (57%). The one positive trait most Chinese associate with Americans is inventive (70%).

By contrast, Indians hold largely positive views of the American people. Clear majorities see Americans as inventive, hardworking and honest (86%, 81% and 58% respectively). None of the negative traits is linked with Americans by a majority in India.
Again, outside of the United States, the only country where a majority of the public expresses some or a great deal of confidence in Bush is India, where 54% feel this way. (The survey was unable to elicit answers to these and certain other questions in China.)

Where to go to lead a good life?

For much of its history, America has been considered a land of opportunity for immigrants from all over the world. But in this survey, when respondents were asked in an open-ended question to advise a young person where to move in order to lead a good life, Australia, Canada, Great Britain and Germany were all more frequently recommended as first choices than was the United States.

Only in India is the United States seen as the world’s leading land of opportunity ­ 38% of Indians feel this way, the largest percentage of any public to agree on any single country as their top choice.

Australia is cited as the leading land of opportunity in four countries (Great Britain, Canada, Netherlands and Germany); Canada in three countries (U.S., France and China); Great Britain in two countries (Poland and Spain); and Germany in two countries (Russia and Turkey).

English-speaking countries generally dominate the ratings, but two Asian countries buck that trend, perhaps on the strength of a regional attraction to neighbors. China is the first choice among Pakistanis; Japan is the top choice of Indonesians.

It’s surprising that the Pakistanis chose China as their land of opportunity? Does China encourage migrationn of Pakistanis? Or did they misunderstand the question? (Suppose a young person who wanted to leave this country asked you to recommend where to go to lead a good life – what country would you recommend? (OPEN-ENDED)

Favorable Opinion of the US held in Country:

US (83%)

India (71%)

Poland (62%)

Canada (59%)

Britain (55%)

Russia (52%)

Netherlands (45%)

France (43%)

China (42%)

Germany (41%)

Spain (41%)

Indonesia (38%)

Turkey (23%)

Pakistan (23)

NOTE: The surveys in India, China and Pakistan are disproportionately or exclusively urban samples.

Confidence in George W Bush as Leader:

US (62%)

India (54%)

Poland (47%)

Canada (40%)

Netherlands (39%)

Britain (38%)

Germany (30%)

Russia (28%)

Indonesia 920%)

Spain (18%)

Pakistan (10%)

Turkey (8%)

Some of the Pew Global Attitudes Project Survey results in respect to India are summarized below:

Image of the United States

** Fully 71% in India express a positive opinion of the United States, up from 54% three years ago.

** Indians show high regard for the American people with 71% having a favorable opinion, up from 58% in 2002.

** Solid majorities in India view Americans as “inventive” (86%) “hard-working” (81%) and “honest” (58%). Fewer than half associate the negative traits “greedy” (43%), “violent” (39%), “immoral” (36%), and “rude” (27%) with Americans.

** In response to an open-ended question on where a young person should go to lead a good life, 38% of Indians named the U.S., far more than any other nation named. Indians were more likely to name the U.S. in this regard than any other public surveyed.

India’s image, national conditions

** Fully 83% of Indians believe their country is generally liked in other countries around the world; just 13% believe India is disliked by people in other nations.

** A majority of Indians (57%) say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in their country, while 41% are satisfied. This represents a significant improvement from the summer of 2002 when 83% were dissatisfied and just 9% were satisfied.

Iraq war and U.S. policies

** Three-quarters of the Indian public believe their country made the right decision not to use military force against Iraq.

** India is the only country, aside from the U.S., in which a plurality (45%) believes war with Iraq that removed Saddam Hussein from power made the world is a safer place. But, just 27% say the elections held in Iraq last January will lead to a more stable situation there while two in ten think the situation in Iraq will not change much and three in ten think it be less stable.

** India is one of only three countries surveyed in which a majority (63%) says the U.S. pays a great deal or a fair amount of attention to the ir country’s interests when making international policy decisions; 59% in Indonesia and 53% in China said the same.

About the Survey

** The Global Attitudes Project conducted personal interviews with a random sample of 2,042 Indian residents aged 18 to 64 from May 1- 29, 2005. The sample was drawn exclusively from urban areas. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2 percentage points.


Ram Narayanan
US India Friendship

comments powered by Disqus