Sharp drop in China’s global standing as poll shows support for Taiwan’s defense | China

China’s reputation has deteriorated rapidly over the past four years, particularly in the west, and much of world opinion would support some form of international aid for Taiwan whether Beijing tries to take the island by force, according to a poll.

It comes as Xi Jinping warned of ‘dangerous storms’ on the horizon as he was confirmed on Sunday as Chinese leader for an unprecedented third termand as Washington warns that Beijing is acceleration plans annex the island.

The YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project also found that while sentiment toward China was significantly more favorable in other parts of the world than it was in the West, respondents in 20 of the 25 countries surveyed prefer the United States as the reigning superpower.

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The survey found a dramatic decline in China’s global standing since it was first conducted in 2019, with the percentage of respondents saying they believe China plays a positive role in the world dropping by half in some countries.

Pro-Chinese sentiment has collapsed over the past four years, dropping from 46% to 24% in Poland, 36% to 17% in France, 30% to 13% in Germany, 32% to 11% in Denmark, 41% to 24% in Italy, 35% to 11% in the UK and 44% to 23% in India. It fell from 27% to 18% in the United States.

While Covid-19 partly informs this negative sentiment, with majorities of more than 80% convinced that the pandemic started in China and considerable proportions (at least 40% in many countries) suspecting that it originated or was created in a laboratory, human rights violations also seem to be a growing concern.

In countries such as France (45%, versus 39%), Germany (53%, versus 46%), Denmark (53%, versus 45%), Spain (30%, versus 21%) and Greece (29%, down from 18%), more people this year than last time selected China from a list of countries as the one they said had “put hundreds of thousands of its own citizens, or more , in mass prison camps, without fair and proper judicial process”.

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The outgoing UN human rights commissioner said in a report last month that China had committed serious human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province that may constitute crimes against humanity. The report concluded that there was an acute risk of arbitrary detention and that it was “reasonable to conclude that a pattern of large-scale arbitrary detention occurred in [vocational education and training centre] installations, at least from 2017 to 2019.”

The YouGov survey, conducted between August 24 and September 22, identified a significant rebound in positive opinion of the United States, with several countries showing a V-shaped pattern in which positive opinions fell from 2019 to 2020 but then rebounded, often to a new high, in the past two years.

American leadership has become markedly more popular: this year, for example, 62% of respondents in Germany said they prefer the United States to China as the most powerful force in global politics, up from 43% in 2019 and 67 % in the UK, up. from 52%.

Moreover, in the vast majority of countries, many more people chose the United States over China as their favorite superpower, undermining Beijing’s hopes of being seen as an alternative source of global leadership – by margins of 77% to 15% in Nigeria, 69% to 9% in India, 48% to 23% in Mexico, 59% to 11% in Brazil and 45% to 19% in Greece.

Nonetheless, said YouGov academic director Joel Rogers de Waal, there was still good news for China in the results, which showed “a clear divide between the West and other parts of the world in the general sentiment to respect”.

Majorities in nine of the 12 non-Western countries in the survey had a positive view of China’s role in the world, and there was evidence that Beijing’s post-pandemic reputation was improving in several countries.

In Mexico, positive views of China have risen to 59% this year from 50% in 2021. Positive views in Egypt and Saudi Arabia have risen to 57% this year from 47% and 41% respectively in 2021, while Thailand, Kenya and Nigeria showed similar jumps.

In Taiwan, majorities in about half of the countries surveyed – including Britain (51%), Australia (62%) and the United States (52%) – believed that “other countries should help Taiwan if China used force to annex the island. .

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Sweden (55%), Denmark (51%) and, beyond the west, India (51%), Japan (55%), Kenya (63%) and Nigeria (60%) ) also show majorities, while in most other countries, including France, Germany, Spain and Poland, more people (38%, 43%, 38% and 40%) were in favor of aid to Taiwan (22%, 27%, 22% and 15%).

Support for a US-led alliance supplying heavy weapons or troops to Taiwan was generally weak, but providing intelligence or military advisers – and imposing heavy economic sanctions on China – was backed by at least 40 % of respondents in 10 out of 13 Western countries surveyed. .

Countries like Sweden, Poland, UK, USA, India and the three African countries of Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa were also willing to consider “war hybrid” such as cyberattacks and pro-Taiwanese messages.

“In other words, public opinion reflects a combination of two feelings,” Rogers de Waal said. “There is a predictable aversion to the prospect of a physical confrontation with China, but also considerable support for the cause of Taiwanese defense in principle.”

He said the African countries in the survey could also highlight another significant trend, with all three showing high levels of support for aiding Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, but also large majorities holding a view. positive about China’s role in world affairs.

“Public opinion is often not as binary as political debate might suggest,” Rogers de Waal said. “Many people may be able to hold both a sympathetic view of Taiwan’s defense and a favorable view of China as a powerful force within the international system – but not as an outright alternative. to this one.”

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