China’s global reputation severely dented by its coronavirus havoc

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for a reception at the Great Hall of the People on the eve of China's National Day. (Photo courtesy: CNN)

(, Oct07’20) – Thanks to its irresponsible response to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which enabled the disease to spread across the world and then for taking advantage of this global crisis with moves aimed at benefiting its economy and territory, global perceptions of China have turned increasingly negative in recent months. A new survey released by Pew Research on Oct 6 shows that the majority of 14 countries polled say Beijing had done a bad job of handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Trust in Chinese President Xi Jinping has also plunged over the past 12 months, with more than 77% of people surveyed in the United States saying they had no confidence in Xi to “do the right thing” in global affairs, reported Oct 6.

The illness, deaths and disruption caused by the coronavirus in those countries have intensified already strong public distrust of China, where the virus emerged late last year, noted the Oct 6, citing the results from the Pew Research Center’s survey.

The report said non-partisan American “fact-tank” Pew Research had surveyed 14,276 adults in 14 countries between June and August, primarily by telephone due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Among the countries surveyed were stated to be the US, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom.

“The major finding is that unfavorable views of China are rising precipitately and this is tied to the fact that China has not done a good job handling the coronavirus,” Laura Silver, senior researcher at Pew and co-author of the report, has said.

The report said that of the 14 countries polled by Pew Research, every one had a majority negative view of China. And in every country except for France, Japan and Italy, Beijing’s reputation was at its lowest point on record.

The report said some of the drops in favorable opinions toward China had been sharp. For example, in 2017, 64% of Australians surveyed had said they felt positively toward their largest trading partner – three years later, only 14% feel the same way. Now, 81% have an unfavorable opinion of China.

There were similar results in the UK. In 2018, 49% of those surveyed had said they had a favorable opinion of China, compared to just 35% with an unfavorable view. Now 74% of British citizens polled have said they have a negative view of China.

The report noted that the coronavirus pandemic was likely to blame for some of the rapid fall in China’s favorability ratings, citing the survey. Across the 14 countries polled, 61% of respondents have said that Beijing had handled the viral outbreak poorly.

“Public opinion is a powerful constraint,” the report quoted Natasha Kassam, a former Australian diplomat who is a research fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, where she studies public opinion and foreign policy, as saying. “We can see in both Australia and the United States, for example, souring public opinion has served as a powerful driver for governments to be particularly vocal” about China.

The Pew Research has found Xi to be the second least trusted leader out of six alternatives offered to survey respondents in the 14 countries. He was behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and even Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The only world leader whose reputation was worse than Xi’s was US President Donald Trump.

Chinese leaders may feel some consolation that many respondents in the Pew survey took an even dimmer view of how the United States has handled the pandemic. An average of 84% of the people surveyed across the 14 countries said the United States had done a bad job with the coronavirus, noted the report.


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