Page last updated at 02:10 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Russia and China 'approval down'

Beijing Olympics closing ceremony
Hosting the Olympics appears to have done little for China's image

Global attitudes towards Russia and China are worsening, a poll carried out for the BBC World Service suggests.

China's positive ratings fell six points over the year to 39%, while negative views of Russia jumped eight points to 42%, according to the survey.

The survey was taken after President Barack Obama's election, but 43% still felt the US impact was negative.

More than 13,000 people in 21 countries were interviewed for the poll, part of an annual survey of world opinion.

The more [Russia] acts like the old Soviet Union, the less people... seem to like it
GlobeScan chairman Doug Miller
It was carried out by international pollster GlobeScan with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (Pipa) at the University of Maryland in the 10 weeks leading up to 1 February.

China and Russia

In last year's poll of the same countries, people leaned more towards saying China and Russia were having a positive influence on the world.

graphic showing changing attitudes to China, the US and Russia
But views of China are now divided, with 40% rating it negatively compared with 39% who view it positively.

"Our poll results suggest that China has much to learn about winning hearts and minds in the world," said GlobeScan chairman Doug Miller.

"It seems that a successful Olympic Games has not been enough to offset other concerns that people have," he added, referring to the summer games hosted by Beijing in August 2008.

The poll also suggests that substantially more people now have a negative view of Russia's influence - 42% negative versus 30% positive - and that was before the recent disruption in Russian gas supplies to Europe.


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"As for Russia, the more it acts like the old Soviet Union, the less people outside its borders seem to like it," Mr Miller said.

The World Service poll has been canvassing opinions on the influence of countries since 2005.

Obama's challenge

The US, for the first time since 2005, has surpassed Russia in positive ratings, with an average of 40% compared with 35% last year.

But it is still rated negatively by 43% of those polled, down from 47% in the 2008 poll.

BBC Beijing correspondent James Reynolds
China is determined to project
its own image and perspective as far as it can [and] how the world sees China and how China sees the world matter quite a bit

Views of the US have improved in six countries, but attitudes towards it in Russia and China have grown more negative, while most people in Europe show little change.

"Though BBC polls have shown that most people around the world are hopeful that Barack Obama will improve US relations with the world, it is clear that his election alone is not enough to turn the tide," said Steven Kull, director of Pipa.

"People are still looking to see if there are significant changes in US policies."

Germany once again fared best in the poll, with every country viewing it positively and 61% of people rating it favourably, up from 55% last year.

The UK also moved up seven points, with 58% of people rating it as having a positive influence.

As was the case last year, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea were rated most negatively.

The latest results are based on 13,575 responses in 21 countries around the world. The survey has a margin of error ranging from 2.4% to 4.4% depending upon the country, 19 times out of 20.

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