Friday, March 24, 2006

Durian Daily 30: Attitude Polls Towards Countries

A major BBC World Service poll exploring how people in 33 countries view various countries found not a single country where a majority has a positive view of Iran’s role in the world (with the exception of Iranians themselves).

Views of Iran are lower than the US, although the US continues to get low marks, as does Russia. Views of China, France, and Russia are down sharply compared to a similar BBC World Service poll conducted at the end of 2004.

Japan is the country most widely viewed as having a positive influence, and Europe as a whole gets the most positive ratings of all.


Views of China have deteriorated sharply over the last year, but a plurality continues to view China positively in the world. Among the 20 countries polled both years, the number rating China mainly positively has dropped from 13 countries in 2004 to eight today, while those rating it negatively have risen from three countries to seven. On average, positive ratings of China have dropped 9 points.

What is most striking is the change that has occurred among European countries and Canada. While in 2004 four of the seven European countries polled plus Canada had a plurality with a positive view of China, today only one country—Spain—still has a plurality positive view. France’s positive rating dropped from 49 percent to 31 percent while a majority of 53 percent now view China negatively. Italy’s positive rating dropped from 42 percent to 22 percent, and a 55 percent majority now have a negative view. Positive views dropped in Great Britain (46% to 40%) and Canada (49% to 36%), with pluralities now having a negative view. Views in Russia also worsened—positive views dropping from a plurality positive of 42 percent to a divided 32 percent positive, 33 percent negative. Finland—polled for the first time—also came in 54 percent negative.

Negative shifts also occurred in Asia, most notably in South Korea. In 2004 South Koreans had been divided on China (49% positive, 47% negative), while currently a 58 percent majority views China negatively. Drops in positive ratings have also occurred in India (66% to 44%), the Philippines (70% to 54%), Australia (56% to 43%) and Indonesia (68% to 60%), but in all of these cases a plurality or majority are still positive.

Steven Kull comments, “Recent stories of tightening of state controls appear to have hurt China’s image in the world.”

Nonetheless, on balance, China still has considerably more countries holding a positive than a negative view of it. Of the 33 countries polled this year, 20 have a positive view (12 majorities, 8 pluralities) and only ten have a negative view (5 pluralities and 5 majorities). On average 45 percent gave China a positive rating and 27 percent a negative rating. Positive views are particularly widespread in Africa—especially Senegal (73% positive), Nigeria (68%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (59%), Kenya (59%) and Tanzania (53%). Majority positive views were also found among a number of Muslim countries—Iran (66%), Afghanistan (58%), Iraq (55%), Saudi Arabia (54%), and Indonesia (60%). Positive majorities were also found in Brazil (57%) and the Philippines (54%).


Japan received very high ratings. Of the 33 countries polled, a remarkable 31 gave a positive rating and 21 of these were a majority. On average 55 percent gave a positive rating and 18 percent a negative one. Japan was not rated in the 2004 BBC World Service poll.
The two exceptions were China and South Korea, where 71 and 54 percent, respectively, said that Japan is having a negative influence. Otherwise the only countries to have more than 30 percent with a negative rating for Japan were France (36%) and Iran (33%), but both of these were still predominantly positive (France 47% positive, Iran 57%).

Interestingly some of the most positive countries are in Japan’s region of the world. An extraordinary 85 percent of Indonesians and 79 percent of Filipinos give Japan good grades. Australians are also quite positive (60%). Europeans are all quite positive, including Great Britain (57%), Germany (54%) and especially Spain (69%). France and Italy are more low key (47% and 48% positive, respectively). Also quite positive are Americans (66%) and Canadians (62%).

Read more on other countries here. Unfortunately, no Singaporean opinions are heeded, neither is Singapore's influence included.


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