More countries hold negative views of China than hold positive views, according to the latest Country Ratings Poll released by the BBC World Service. Of 25 countries surveyed between December 2012 and April 2013, 13 viewed China’s influence as “mainly negative,” while 12 viewed it as “mainly positive.” The percentage of people with negative feelings has risen sharply, particularly in Western countries and in China’s closest neighbors. As a result, China has slid down the ranks from fifth to ninth out of 17 countries (including the EU) in terms of its positive influence. The Country Ratings Poll was first released in 2005.
In countries that were generally aligned with the United States on questions related to China, positive attitudes towards China plummeted—by double digits in all but Japan—compared with the 2012 poll (PDF). Declines of more than 20 percentage points were registered in Australia, Canada, Germany, and Spain. In Germany, the “world’s most popular country,” based on the 2013 survey, the percentage of people calling China’s influence mainly positive plunged 29 percentage points to just 13 percent. These results strongly suggest that coupled with its increasingly problematic human rights situation, China’s soft power campaign has failed to improve the country’s image in key markets.
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