MAP: How Asia is scared of China

Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center

A substantial Pew survey of global opinion released on Monday revealed, among other indicators, how majorities in countries across Asia fear the outbreak of conflict as a result of China's contentious border spats. Beijing's many territorial disputes with its neighbors -- ranging from islands near Japan, shoals in the South China Sea and rugged Himalayan highlands along its vast land border with India -- have flared alongside its own military expansion. As China's economy booms, other Asian nations are growing increasingly wary of its intentions and capabilities.

"In all 11 Asian nations polled, roughly half or more say they are concerned that territorial disputes between China and its neighbors will lead to a military conflict," read a Pew statement.

Pew data also shows how, despite its bad publicity for National Security Agency spying and the use of drones, the United States is still seen in a more favorable light than China by much of the world.

This is in part a consequence of the durability of the American brand, despite the perceived heavy-handedness of its foreign policy, as well as genuine concerns about what the world would look like if China is able to rival the United States' superpower status. There's an emerging global consensus, according to Pew, that China could surpass the United States as an economic power.

Pew also provided a breakdown of who various Asian publics consider their friend and foe. It shows clearly the hardening of the post-World War II consensus in the Pacific, where a host of Asian democracies now appear to be looking for a renewal of the Pax Americana in the face of provocations from China, including numerous maritime standoffs with Chinese vessels. One prominent exception is Pakistan, where public opinion regards China favorably and the United States (and neighbor India) much less so. This is despite China's conspicuous crackdown on Muslims in the far-western region of Xinjiang, on the other side of the border with Pakistan.

You can read the full report here.

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.
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Ishaan Tharoor · July 14