Trump less trusted across advanced economies than China's President Xi

The US was also perceived as handling the Covid crisis worse than China has.

US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping arrive at state dinner, Great Hall of the People, Beijing, 2017. (photo credit: THOMAS PETER/REUTERS)
US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping arrive at state dinner, Great Hall of the People, Beijing, 2017.
(photo credit: THOMAS PETER/REUTERS)
Negative perceptions of China have soared over the past year across many advanced economies, reaching all-time highs in a number of countries including the UK, Germany and Australia, a Pew Research Center poll published last week has found. While the increasingly unfavorable view of China is driven in large part by belief that the country did not handle the coronavirus pandemic well, America came off even worse.
The survey was taken in 14 countries between June 10 and August 3, with 14,276 respondents quizzed on whether they held a positive or negative view of China, how well they thought China had done on handling the pandemic, and whether they had confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping to do the right thing regarding world affairs.
A majority in every country held negative views on China, ranging from 86% of those in Japan and 85% in Switzerland holding this view, to 62% in Italy saying the same. The Spanish held similar views to their Mediterranean cousins, as 63% of Spaniards held a negative view.
Australia's strongly negative view on China – 81% held this view – is notable, since the figure represents a change of heart among Australians. As recently as the last few years, the country held a majority positive view of China, a pattern which was also true of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
In Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, South Korea, Spain and Canada, negative views have reached their highest points since the center began polling on this topic more than a decade ago.
Although perceptions of China have been generally heading in a negative direction over the last decade, this trend has sharply accelerated within the past year, possibly due to the coronavirus pandemic, which originated there.
Across the 14 countries, 61% said they thought China had done a bad job of dealing with the outbreak, against 37% who thought the country had done a good job. The only other country in which a majority thought that China had done a bad job was the United States, where 84% had negative perceptions on how the disease had been handled.
By contrast, respondents had a mostly favorable view of how the European Union, the World Health Organization and their own countries had handled the outbreak: 60% thought the EU had done a good job, 63% thought the WHO had, and 73% on average thought their own country had.
China's President Xi Jinping likewise has slumped sharply in the favorability ratings, with at least seven in ten respondents in every country saying they had no confidence in him to do the right thing regarding world affairs. The Netherlands had the least unfavorable opinion of the president, with 70% saying they had no confidence – although this result represents an increase of 17 percentage points over last year's result.
The Japanese were the most critical: 84% of Japanese said they had no confidence in him. Those in the US were most likely to have changed their mind over the last year, with 27% of people changing a positive opinion into a negative one.
Nevertheless, Xi was not the least popular world leader. In most countries surveyed, the people had more faith in the Chinese leader than they did in America's President Donald Trump. For example, 78% of Germans had no confidence in the Chinese premiere, while 89% said the same of Trump.
Overall, on average across the nations surveyed, 83% of respondents had no confidence in Trump, 78% had no confidence in Xi, and 73% had no confidence in Russia's President Vladimir Putin. By contrast, a majority of 76% did have confidence in Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, and 62% had a favorable opinion of France's President Emmanuel Macron. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson was more divisive: 48% said they did have confidence in him, against 46% who said they did not.