February 6, 2009 / 2:08 PM / 10 years ago

U.S. image picks up, China and Russia worsen: poll

LONDON (Reuters) - The image of the United States around the world has improved in the past year while China and Russia’s standing in other countries has slipped, according to an opinion poll published on Friday.

A worker changes the flag at the U.S. Capitol building during the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama in Washington in this January 20, 2009 file photo. The image of the United States around the world has improved in the past year while China and Russia's standing in other countries has slipped, according to an opinion poll published on Friday. REUTERS/Mike Segar

However, the public’s view of the United States remains mainly negative, despite the election of President Barack Obama, the global poll for the BBC World Service found.

America’s positive rating rose five points to 40 percent while negatives dipped four points to 43 percent, the poll said.

Pollster GlobeScan, working with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, questioned 13,575 people in 20 countries and Central America in the 10 weeks ended February 1.

They were asked about their views of 15 selected countries and the European Union.

In a similar poll a year ago, people leaned toward saying China and Russia had a positive influence in the world.

But views of China are now divided with 40 percent rating it negatively (up seven points from last year) compared with 39 percent who viewed it positively (down six points).

The poll offered no reason for the decline in perception of China, which hosted a widely-praised Olympic Games in 2008 but also faced protests against Chinese rule in Tibet.

People with a negative view of Russia rose eight points from last year to 42 percent while those with a positive view fell five points to 30 percent.

The poll did not explore the reasons for the change in people’s perceptions, but the pollsters said Russia’s military action against Georgia last year and increasing limitations on civil rights may be affecting U.S. and European attitudes.

Most polling was done before the recent interruption in Russian gas supplies to Europe.

“Our poll results suggest that China has much to learn about winning hearts and minds in the world. It seems that a successful Olympic Games has not been enough to offset other concerns that people have,” GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller said.

“As for Russia, the more it acts like the old Soviet Union, the less people outside its borders seem to like it,” he said.

Iran, Israel and Pakistan are the three countries rated most negatively in the poll.

Iran — locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear plans — had the poorest rating of countries people were asked to rate, with negatives outweighing positives 55 per cent to 17.

Israel received a negative rating of 51 percent compared with 21 percent who were positive. Most polling occurred before Israel launched its military offensive in Gaza.

Germany was viewed most favorably, with positives at 61 percent outstripping negatives (15 percent) by four to one.

The EU had a mainly positive image, except in Turkey, which is locked in arduous negotiations to join the bloc. Thirty-four percent of Turks viewed the EU positively (down 10 points) while 44 percent had a negative view (up four points).

View results of the poll by clicking:

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