January 13, 2011 - 4:31PM
Americans say China, not the US, is the world's top economic power, reflecting a shift in attitudes after the global financial crisis, a poll found.
Some 47 per cent of Americans surveyed from Jan. 5-9 by the Washington-based Pew Research Center for the People and the Press said China is the leading economic power, while 31 per cent named the US. A February 2008 Pew poll, taken before the collapses of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, found 41 per cent of Americans considered the US the top economic power, with 30 per cent naming China.
The results highlight the rising influence of China, whose economy has expanded more than 90-fold in the last three decades and illustrate the importance of next week's summit in Washington between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The poll measures perception, not reality. US gross domestic product is still almost three times the size of China's and dwarfs the Asian nation in terms of per capita income. The US, with just over 300 million people, has an annual GDP of $US14.1 trillion compared with $US4.99 trillion for China's 1.3 billion people.
A Pew poll in January 1989 found that by a two-to-one margin, Americans considered Japan to be the world's preeminent economic power, a decade after the release of the controversial "Japan as Number One'' book by Harvard University Professor Ezra Vogel. The poll released yesterday found only 9 per cent of the 1,503 respondents hold that view.
Fewer than one-quarter of the respondents view China as an adversary, the poll found. Some 58 per cent of respondents said it is important to build stronger ties between the two countries. Most people polled said China was a greater economic than military threat, with 67 per cent saying that the US was the world's top military power, compared with 16 per cent who said China had the most potent military.
Almost half of Americans, 47 per cent, view China favorably, compared with 36 per cent who view China unfavorably, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus three per centage points.
Most respondents, 53 per cent, said the US should get tougher with China on the trade and economic issues, with Republicans and Democrats expressing almost identical positions. The US posted a record $US28 billion trade deficit with China in August, according to US Census Bureau figures. The US says China's currency is undervalued, undercutting US exports and eliminating jobs.