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Pew poll: China expected to surpass U.S. as superpower

By
Kristen Butler, UPI.com
A Chinese man hauls recyclable trash past a new, upscale housing estate under construction in Beijing on July 7, 2013. China recorded its widest rural-urban income gap last year since the country launched its reform and opening-up policy in 1978. (File/UPI/Stephen Shaver)
A Chinese man hauls recyclable trash past a new, upscale housing estate under construction in Beijing on July 7, 2013. China recorded its widest rural-urban income gap last year since the country launched its reform and opening-up policy in 1978. (File/UPI/Stephen Shaver) | License Photo

Will China replace the U.S. as the world's top economic player and leading superpower?

A new Pew Research Center survey of 38,000 people in 39 countries found the widespread belief that China in on its way to supplanting the U.S.

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"Publics around the world believe the global balance of power is shifting," Pew wrote. "China's economic power is on the rise, and many think it will eventually supplant the United States as the world's dominant superpower."

Two out of three Chinese now believe their country will overtake the U.S., up eight points from 58 percent in 2008. The number of Americans who agree has jumped from 36 percent in 2008 to 47 percent.

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Looking at the 20 nations surveyed in both 2008 and 2013, the median percentage naming the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power has declined from 47 percent to 41 percent, while the median percentage placing China in the top spot has risen from 20 percent to 34 percent.

The shift is especially notable in Western Europe, where 53 percent in Britain say China is already the leading economy while 33 percent name the U.S. In Germany, 59 percent say China is economic leader, while just 19 percent named the U.S. and 14 percent say it is the EU.

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There were only six countries where a majority or plurality of respondents believe China will never overtake the U.S.

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Overall, the U.S. still has a more favorable global image than China. Across the nations surveyed, a median 63 percent express a favorable opinion of the U.S., compared with 50 percent for China.

The military power of both nations worries many, with wide regional differences, though half or more in 31 of 39 countries disapprove of U.S. drone attacks.

The U.S. is seen most negatively in parts of the Muslim world, including Pakistan (11 percent favorable), Jordan (14 percent), Egypt (16 percent), and Palestine (16 percent).

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Elsewhere, especially among Latin Americans and Africans, the U.S. enjoys a strong soft power advantage. American science, technology, business and popular culture are embraced by many. In 28 of 38 nations, half or more of those surveyed have a positive opinion of the U.S.

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