Obama Falling Out of Favor with Chinese

Fortunately for Obama, they can't vote in the U.S.

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As Election Day approaches, one large population's opinion of President Barack Obama appears to have fallen fast. Fortunately for him, they can't vote in the U.S.

A report released Tuesday from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project shows that the Chinese people's view of the president has slipped considerably over the last two years. The share of Chinese people who say they have "confidence" in Obama has slid from 52 percent to 38 percent since 2010, while the share who have "no confidence" has grown by 11 points, to 41 percent.

It's not just President Obama with whom they've grown disenchanted. The survey shows that the Chinese view of the U.S. has deteriorated quickly over the past two years. In 2010, 58 percent of the Chinese had a favorable view of the U.S. Now, that figure stands at just 43 percent, while the share who view the U.S. unfavorably has grown by 11 points, from 37 to 48 percent. The Chinese people have also shifted on how they view their country's relationship with the U.S. Only 39 percent view the relationship as "one of cooperation," down nearly 30 percentage points from 2010. Meanwhile, the share who believe the relationship is one of "hostility" has more than tripled, from 8 to 26 percent.

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The survey, conducted face-to-face with 3,177 Chinese adults in March and April, does not explain exactly why Chinese views of Obama have slid. However, Global Attitudes Project Associate Director Richard Wike provides a few broad areas that may have contributed.

"There's not a lot of support in China for how President Obama has handled global economic problems. He didn't live up to expectations on the issue of climate change in China," Wike says. "So we know a little bit, although we don't have a whole lot of specifics about what particular policies led to this change in attitudes."

The slide in the Chinese perception of America reflects broader global trends, says Wike, but is also steeper than in some other countries.

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"We've seen a little bit of a downturn in America's global image in a few spots around the world over the last few years," says Wike. "Some of the initial enthusiasm that greeted the election of President Obama has faded a little bit, but you see it particularly in China."

While they may not like America's policies, the Chinese still have a positive view of the American economy, by one measure — even more positive than the American people's view.

Forty-eight percent of the Chinese view the U.S. as the world's leading economic power, compared to just 29 percent who say China sits at the top. That's a significant difference from how Americans view the situation: 40 percent of people in this country say the U.S. is the leading economic power, compared to 41 percent who say it's China.

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The Chinese also have a positive view of America's political system, if not its key players. 52 percent say they like American ideas about democracy, while only 29 percent dislike them. The percentage tends to be higher among those with higher incomes, those who have at least some college education, and younger adults.

While they may be unimpressed with the U.S., the survey shows that the Chinese have bigger problems to worry about right now. Six in 10 respondents say that inflation is a "very big problem," making it the Chinese people's chief concern. Corrupt officials and growing inequality also score high as worries for the Chinese.

According to Wike, these worries are in part the downsides of the country's recent good fortune.

"In some ways the data illustrate that the public in china is dealing with side effects of the economy growth that they've enjoyed over the last few years," he says.

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  • Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter @titonka or via E-mail at dkurtzleben@usnews.com.