Ng Han Guan/AP

China’s Boom Has Westerners Wary

June 17, 2008 09:00 AM
by Soojung Chang
As the Beijing games approach, concern is growing worldwide about China’s rising economic, political and military strength.

30-Second Summary

The Pew Global Attitudes Project surveyed more than 24,000 people in 24 countries and found that worry is increasing regarding China’s growing military and economic power, influence on other nations, its impact on the environment, and its stance on human rights.

Many people in Western Europe “believe either that China has already replaced the United States as the world’s leading superpower or that it will at some point replace the United States,” according to the report.

China’s currency, the yuan, has been hitting record highs against the dollar, and a Chinese economist was recently named chief economist of the World Bank. Still, public perception does not yet match reality, say analysts quoted by the International Herald Tribune.

“Most people don’t have accurate information,” said Jerome Cohen of the Council on Foreign Relations. “My impression is that while China has made remarkable progress and is having an increasing economic impact on the world, it is a long way from replacing the United States.”

A poll found that favorable views of China have fallen since last year in nine of 21 countries surveyed. The timing of the poll may have been a factor, however, as it was conducted soon after civil unrest broke out in Tibet in March.

Recent events such as the Sichuan earthquake and demonstrations during the Olympic torch relay have also had an effect.

“Already 2008 has proved a tumultuous year in terms of global perceptions of China, and there are still 59 days to go until the Beijing Olympics,” reports The Guardian. “The world is having a crash course on China.”

Headline Link: ‘China’s Ascendency Causing Global Concern, Pew Study Finds’

Background: Yuan rising; Chinese economist new chief at World Bank

Opinion & Analysis: China and the EU, German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, Defense Secretary Robert Gates

Related Topics: Hacker threat, China’s economic effects, Chinese pride


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines