During the recent Chinese Communist Party conference, President Xi Jinping not only consolidated his power on the party but also laid out his vision of a ‘new era’ where China will become a ‘mighty force’ in the world. In essence, he was positioning China as a global leader to fill the economic, moral and political vacuum that is being created by United States’ withdrawal from this role in recent times.
Evidence of this shift is shown by a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. The survey found that there was a 14% drop in those who view the US favourably amongst the countries polled. Furthermore countries such as Australia, the Netherlands and Canada now all view China more favourably than the US and other countries such as Germany, Chile and Indonesia now trust the leadership of President Xi more than President Trump.
Over the last few decades China has been trying to improve its image throughout the world to aim to dispel the perception of an authoritarian and aggressive state. It contributes heavily to the UN and UN peacekeeping budgets and has been working more collaboratively with other countries on issues such as climate change and North Korea. China also spends billions of dollars on foreign aid and has opened Confucius Institutes around the globe which promote Chinese languages and culture internationally.
Compare this to how the US is now perceived globally. There is political gridlock caused by deeply entrenched partisanship. There is a burgeoning public debt which means key investment in science, education and infrastructure has reduced. It has also pulled out of the Paris Climate Change agreement which has been signed by 195 other countries.
What we are almost certainly witnessing is a shift in global ‘soft power’ away from the US towards China and this may have many consequences, positive and negative, for us all in the future.
SignalofChange #ReputationShift: Australians, Dutch & Canadians view China more favorably thanthe US @FareedZakaria https://t.co/H1PSCC3kgv