How has Chinese GDP as a percentage of world GDP changed over time and why?

How has Chinese GDP as a percentage of world GDP changed over time and why?

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I've heard it's 33% during the Qing dinasty. 4% during cultural revolution. Now it's climbing up steadily to 11%.

Where can I see the table of those actually tracking those numbers?

What were the causes?

There is an overview in an article on China China's historical GDP share in the world

Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD)
GDP per capita: $450, 26%

Tang Dynasty 618 - 907 AD GDP per capita:$480, 58% of world GDP

Song Dynasty 960-1279 AD GDP per capita:US$2,280, 80% of the world's GDP

Yuan Dynasty 1271-1368 A estimated to account for about 30% -35% GDP

Ming Dynasty 1368-1644 AD GDP per capita:US$600, 55% of world GDP

Qing Dynasty 1644-1922 AD GDP per capita:US$600 Qing Dynasty accounted for 35% -10% of the World GDP

People's Republic of China 1949- GDP per capita:US$5414, 9.48 percent of the world economy. See also Wikipedia for this period.

There is also another article at Wikipedia: Economic history of China before 1912

Maybe you can find hint to other sources there.

Well, at least the drop during the "Cultural Revolution" is easily explained. Setting hordes of young, largely semi-literate, thugs to torture and maim the productive and educated members of society will do wonders for the economy. Here is a long quote from wikipedia:

The ten years of the Cultural Revolution brought China's education system to a virtual halt. The university entrance exams were cancelled after 1966, and were not restored until 1977 under Deng Xiaoping. Many intellectuals were sent to rural labour camps, and many of those who survived left China shortly after the revolution ended.[citation needed] Many survivors and observers[who?] suggest that almost anyone with skills over that of the average person was made the target of political “struggle” in some way. According to most Western observers as well as followers of Deng Xiaoping, this led to almost an entire generation of inadequately educated individuals. The impact of the Cultural Revolution on popular education varied among regions, and formal measurements of literacy did not resume until the 1980s.[75] Some counties in Zhanjiang had illiteracy rates as high as 41% some 20 years after the revolution. The leaders of China at the time denied any illiteracy problems from the start. This effect was amplified by the elimination of qualified teachers-many of the districts were forced to rely upon chosen students to re-educate the next generation.[75]

What is China has changed over time, as have the number of people in China, as has China's level of per capita output (GDP prior to capitalism is an anachronistic imposition if measured in a current value expression), as has the number of people not-in-China, as have the level of per capita output in places not-China.

The assumption that China's proportion of world output would remain static is a less tenable hypothesis than that all proportions of long lasting cultural nexuses of output would vary.

What you're really asking is "Was Needham right?"

And there's a great deal of literature about prefigurative forms of capitalism in China out there. I'd suggest you start by reading the review articles on the Needham Question, because scholarly discontent with the failure of China, a large high productivity advanced feudal society*1 to cement the prefigurative forms of capitalism into actual capitalism continues.

*1 Marxist use in relation to circulation of prestige, status, and direct extraction techniques; not a claim of infeudation.

The ChinaWhisper article doesn't seem to give sources, and its numbers are implausible, particularly having per capita GDP be several times bigger under the Song dynasty than before or after.

A big compilation of historical population and GDP estimates was done by the late economist Angus Maddison, who among other things wrote extensively on China's economic history, and this work is being continued as the Maddison Project. His book The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective can be downloaded; Table B-20 (p. 263) gives estimated historical GDP percentages by country (in "1990 international dollars").

A graph of his estimates for China's share of world GDP is available on Wikipedia. While it does not resolve all the dynasties, China's share of global GDP stays in the 20% to 35% range until the mid-19th century, at which point it starts dropping, to around 4% under Mao. Now it is back up to 17%.

China GDP Growth Rate 1961-2021

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The Economic History of the Last 2,000 Years in 1 Little Graph

That headline is a big promise. But here it is: The economic history of the world going back to Year 1 showing the major powers' share of world GDP, from a research letter written by Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy at JP Morgan.

I'm guessing that your first question, if you started scanning from the left, is: Wait, India was by far the biggest economy at the dawn of AD? Yup, India.

In Year 1, India and China were home to one-third and one-quarter of the world's population, respectively. It's hardly surprising, then, that they also commanded one-third and one-quarter of the world's economy, respectively.

Before the Industrial Revolution, there wasn't really any such thing as lasting income growth from productivity. In the thousands of years before the Industrial Revolution, civilization was stuck in the Malthusian Trap. If lots of people died, incomes tended to go up, as fewer workers benefited from a stable supply of crops. If lots of people were born, however, incomes would fall, which often led to more deaths. That explains the "trap," and it also explains why populations so closely approximated GDP around the world.

The industrial revolution(s) changed all that. Today, the U.S. accounts for 5% of the world population and 21% of its GDP. Asia (minus Japan) accounts for 60% of the world's population and 30% of its GDP.

So, one way to read the graph, very broadly speaking, is that everything to the left of 1800 is an approximation of population distribution around the world and everything to the right of 1800 is a demonstration of productivity divergences around the world -- the mastering of means of manufacturing, production and supply chains by steam, electricity, and ultimately software that concentrated, first in the West, and then spread to Japan, Russia, China, India, Brazil, and beyond.

China vs US – Comparing GDP per capita

Before comparing GDP per capita, we will compare the population of China and the US.
China had a total population of 987 million during 1980. The US population during 1980 was 228 million.

China had over 4-times more population than that of the US in 1980. This multiple will remain nearly the same in 2020 as well.

IMF forecasts China population to reach 1.4 billion by 2020, whereas the US population would reach 332 million. This implies a net increase of 422 million in the China population and 104 million in the US population, during the 40-year period, from 1980 to 2020.

The gap between the China and the US population will grow from 759 million in 1980 to 1077 million in 2020.

China GDP per capita during 1980 was $309 (When we divide the China GDP of $305 billion in 1980 with the China population of 987 million in 1980, we will get the GDP per capita as $309.) At that time, the US GDP per capita was $12,553. So, the US GDP per capita was 41-times more than that of China.

IMF forecasts China GDP per capita to reach $10,971 in 2020. This will still be less than that of the US GDP per capita in 1980, which was $12,553.

In GDP per capita terms, China is nearly 40 years behind the US.

Measuring GDP

There are three primary ways of calculating GDP: first, by adding up what everyone earned in a year (known as the income approach) or by adding up what everyone spent in a year (the expenditure method). Logically, both measures should arrive at roughly the same total.

The income approach, which is sometimes referred to as GDP(I), is calculated by adding up total compensation to employees, gross profits for incorporated and non-incorporated firms, and taxes less any subsidies. The expenditure method is the more common approach and is calculated by adding private consumption and investment, government spending, and net exports.

Finally, GDP can equivalently be measured based on the value of goods or services produced in an economy over the course of the year (the production or output approach). Because economic output requires expenditure and is, in turn, consumed, these three methods for computing GDP all arrive at the same value.

In general, the following simplified equation is often employed to calculate a nation's GDP via the expenditure approach:

Absolute poverty persists

Despite such diversity, there are common discernible patterns. Economic growth drove development. Growth rates of GDP and GDP per capita in Asia have been stunning and far higher than elsewhere in the world.

Rising investment and savings rates combined with the spread of education were the underlying factors. Growth was driven by rapid industrialisation, often led by exports and linked with changes in the composition of output and employment. It was supported by coordinated economic policies, unorthodox wherever and whenever necessary, across sectors and over time.

Rising per capita incomes transformed social indicators of development, as literacy rates and life expectancy rose everywhere. There was also a massive reduction in absolute poverty. But the scale of absolute poverty that persists, despite unprecedented growth, is just as striking as the sharp reduction of poverty that happened between 1984 and 2012, according to data from the World Bank.

The poverty reduction could have been much greater but for the rising inequality. Inequality between people within countries rose almost everywhere, except South Korea and Taiwan. Yet the gap between the richest and poorest countries in Asia remains awesome and the ratio of GDP per capita in the richest and poorest country in Asia was more than 100:1 in both 1970 and 2016.

Should the EU Be Counted as an Economy?

Even though the EU produces more, some experts say the U.S. is still a larger economy. They argue that the U.S. is a country while the EU is just a trading area that includes 27 separate member countries.

But the EU confers many rights that make it more than just a free trade zone such as the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. In addition to tariff relief, the EU allows free movement among the countries for employment and commerce. Furthermore, 19 of these countries also share a common currency, the euro.

Despite the eurozone debt crisis, the EU is lurching toward greater fiscal integration as well as a monetary one. The EU is acting more and more like a unified economy all the time. Furthermore, the EU's currency, the euro, has successfully competed with the dollar as a global currency.

The EU has achieved an economy of scale that eats into the comparative advantage the U.S. has traditionally enjoyed.

China's Merchandise Trade Patterns

Economic reforms and trade and investment liberalization have helped transform China into a major trading power. Chinese merchandise exports rose from $14 billion in 1979 to $2.5 trillion in 2018, while merchandise imports grew from $18 billion to $2.1 trillion (see Table 4 and Figure 15). China's rapidly growing trade flows have made it an increasingly important (and often the largest) trading partner for many countries. According to China, it was the largest trading partner for 130 countries in 2013. 40 From 2000 to 2008, the annual growth of China's merchandise exports and imports averaged 25.1% and 24.2%, respectively. However, China's exports and imports fell by 15.9% and 11.2%, respectively, due to the impact of the global financial crisis. China's trade recovered in 2010 and 2011, with export growth averaging 25.8% and import growth averaging 31.9%. However, since that time, China's trade growth slowed sharply. From 2012 to 2014, China's exports and imports grew at an average annual rate of 7.2% and 4.1%, respectively. From 2015 to 2016 exports and imports fell by an average rate of 4.7% and 11.6%, respectively (see Figure 16), reflecting a sluggish global economy and a decline in commodity prices (such as oil and ores). However, in 2017, China's exports and imports rose by 6.7% and 17.4%, respectively. Exports and imports in 2018 rose by 9.3 and 17.8%, respectively. However, during the first three months of 2001, China's exports grew by 1.0%, while imports fell 1.1% year-over-year. China's merchandise trade surplus grew sharply from 2004 to 2008, rising from $32 billion to $297 billion. That surplus fell each year over the next three years, dropping to $158 billion in 2011. However, it rose in each of the next four years, reaching a record $679 billion in 2015 before falling to $611 billion in 2016, $489 billion in 2017, and $382 billion in 2018. In 2009, China overtook Germany to become both the world's largest merchandise exporter and the second-largest merchandise importer (after the United States). In 2012, China overtook the United States as the world's largest merchandise trading economy (exports plus imports). As indicated in Figure 17, China's share of global merchandise exports grew from 2.0% in 1990 to 14.1% in 2015, but fell to 13.4% in 2016 and to 13.2% in 2017.

Table 4. China's Global Merchandise Trade: 1979-2018

Source: Global Trade Atlas and China's Customs Administration.

Figure 15. China's Merchandise Trade: 2000-2018

Source: World Trade Atlas and China's Customs Administration.

Note: Data are in U.S. dollars which may be impacted by changes in exchange rates.

Figure 16. Annual Change in China's Merchandise Exports and Imports: 2000-2018

Source: Global Trade Atlas and China's Customs Administration.

Note: Data are in U.S. dollars which may be impacted by changes in exchange rates as well as commodity prices.

Figure 17. China's Share of Global Merchandise Exports: 1990-2017

Source: Economist Intelligence Unit.

Note: Data for 2017 are estimated.

China's Major Trading Partners

Table 5 lists official Chinese trade data on its seven largest trading partners in 2018 (based on total trade). These include the 28 countries that make up the European Union (EU28), the United States, the 10 nations that constitute the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. 41 China's top three export markets were the United States, the EU28, ASEAN, 42 while its top sources for imports were the EU28, ASEAN, and South Korea. According to Chinese data, it maintained large trade surpluses with the United States ($282 billion), Hong Kong ($274 billion) and the EU28 ($129 billion), and reported large trade imbalances with Taiwan ($112 billion) and South Korea ($74 billion). China's trade data differ significantly from those of many of its trading partners. These differences appear to be largely caused by how China's trade via Hong Kong is counted in official Chinese trade data. China treats a large share of its exports through Hong Kong as Chinese exports to Hong Kong for statistical purposes, while many countries that import Chinese products through Hong Kong generally attribute their origin to China for statistical purposes, including the United States. 43

Table 5. China's Major Merchandise Trading Partners in 2018

Source: China's Customs Administration.

Notes: Rankings according to China's total trade in 2018. China's bilateral trade data often differ from that of its trading partners.

Major Chinese Trade Commodities

China's abundance of low-cost labor has made it internationally competitive in many low-cost, labor-intensive manufactures. As a result, manufactured products constitute a significant share of China's trade. A substantial amount of China's imports is comprised of parts and components that are assembled into finished products, such as consumer electronic products and computers, and then exported. Often, the value-added to such products in China by Chinese workers is relatively small compared to the total value of the product when it is shipped abroad.

China's top 10 imports and exports in 2018 are listed in Table 6 and Table 7, respectively, using the harmonized tariff system (HTS) on a two-digit level. Major imports included electrical machinery and equipment 44 mineral fuels nuclear reactors, boilers, and machinery (such as automatic data process machines and machines to make semiconductors) ores and optical, photographic, medical, or surgical instruments. China's biggest exports were electrical machinery and equipment nuclear reactors, boilers, and machinery furniture plastics and vehicles.

Table 6. Major Chinese Merchandise Imports in 2018

Percentage of
Total Exports

Total Commodities

Electrical machinery and equipment

Nuclear reactors, boilers, and machinery

Optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring
checking, precision, medical or surgical instruments
and apparatus parts and accessories thereof

Vehicles, except railway, and parts
trucks, and bicycles)

Precious stones and metals

Copper and articles thereof

Oil seeds, misc. grain, plants, and fruit

Source: World Trade Atlas, using official Chinese statistics.

Note: Top 10 imports in 2018, two-digit level, harmonized tariff system.

Table 7. Major Chinese Merchandise Exports in 2018

Percentage of
Total Exports

Nuclear reactors, boilers, and machinery

Plastics and articles thereof

Vehicles, except railway, and parts

Apparel articles and accessories, knit or crochet

Apparel articles and accessories, woven

Optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring

checking, precision, medical or surgical instruments

and apparatus parts and accessories thereof

Articles of iron or steel

Source: World Trade Atlas, using official Chinese statistics.

Note: Top 10 exports in 2018, two-digit level, harmonized tariff system.

The Global Economic Outlook During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Changed World

Every region is subject to substantial growth downgrades. East Asia and the Pacific will grow by a scant 0.5%. South Asia will contract by 2.7%, Sub-Saharan Africa by 2.8%, Middle East and North Africa by 4.2%, Europe and Central Asia by 4.7%, and Latin America by 7.2%. These downturns are expected to reverse years of progress toward development goals and tip tens of millions of people back into extreme poverty.

Emerging market and developing economies will be buffeted by economic headwinds from multiple quarters: pressure on weak health care systems, loss of trade and tourism, dwindling remittances, subdued capital flows, and tight financial conditions amid mounting debt. Exporters of energy or industrial commodities will be particularly hard hit. Demand for metals and transport-related commodities such as rubber and platinum used for vehicle parts has also tumbled. While agriculture markets are well supplied globally, trade restrictions and supply chain disruptions could yet raise food security issues in some places.

A possibility of even worse outcomes

Even this bleak outlook is subject to great uncertainty and significant downside risks. The forecast assumes that the pandemic recedes in such a way that domestic mitigation measures can be lifted by mid-year in advanced economies and later in developing countries, that adverse global spillovers ease during the second half of 2020, and that widespread financial crises are avoided. This scenario would envision global growth reviving, albeit modestly, to 4.2% in 2021.

However, this view may be optimistic. Businesses might find it hard to service debt, heightened risk aversion could lead to climbing borrowing costs, and bankruptcies and defaults could result in financial crises in many countries. Under this downside scenario, global growth could shrink by almost 8% in 2020.

Looking at the speed with which the crisis has overtaken the global economy may provide a clue to how deep the recession will be. The sharp pace of global growth forecast downgrades points to the possibility of yet further downward revisions and the need for additional action by policymakers in coming months to support economic activity.

A particularly concerning aspect of the outlook is the humanitarian and economic toll the global recession will take on economies with extensive informal sectors that make up an estimated one-third of the GDP and about 70% of total employment in emerging market and developing economies. Policymakers must consider innovative measures to deliver income support to these workers and credit support to these businesses.

Long-term damage to potential output, productivity growth

The June 2020 Global Economic Prospects looks beyond the near-term outlook to what may be lingering repercussions of the deep global recession: setbacks to potential output⁠—the level of output an economy can achieve at full capacity and full employment⁠—and labor productivity. Efforts to contain COVID-19 in emerging and developing economies, including low-income economies with limited health care capacity, could precipitate deeper and longer recessions⁠—exacerbating a multi-decade trend of slowing potential growth and productivity growth.

Another important feature of the current landscape is the historic collapse in oil demand and oil prices. Low oil prices are likely to provide, at best, temporary initial support to growth once restrictions to economic activity are lifted. However, even after demand recovers, adverse impacts on energy exporters may outweigh any benefits to activity in energy importers. In addition, the recent oil price plunge may provide further momentum to undertake energy subsidy reforms and deepen them once the immediate health crisis subsides.

In the face of this disquieting outlook, the immediate priority for policymakers is to address the health crisis and contain the short-term economic damage. Over the longer term, authorities need to undertake comprehensive reform programs to improve the fundamental drivers of economic growth once the crisis lifts.

, including support for the private sector and getting money directly to people. During the mitigation period, countries should focus on sustaining economic activity with support for households, firms and essential services.

Global coordination and cooperation—of the measures needed to slow the spread of the pandemic, and of the economic actions needed to alleviate the economic damage, including international support—provide the greatest chance of achieving public health goals and enabling a robust global recovery.

Unfavorable Views of China Reach Historic Highs in Many Countries

This analysis focuses on cross-national views of China. The work builds on previous studies released in the summer of 2020 on Americans’ views of China and the international image of the U.S.

This study was conducted in countries where nationally representative telephone surveys are feasible. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, face-to-face interviewing is not currently possible in many parts of the world.

For this report, we use data from nationally representative surveys of 14,276 adults from June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020, in 14 advanced economies. All surveys were conducted over the phone with adults in the U.S., Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Here are the questions used for the report, along with responses, and the survey methodology.

Negative views of China increased most in Australia, where 81% now say they see the country unfavorably, up 24 percentage points since last year. In the UK, around three-quarters now see the country in a negative light – up 19 points. And, in the U.S., negative views of China have increased nearly 20 percentage points since President Donald Trump took office, rising 13 points since just last year.

The rise in unfavorable views comes amid widespread criticism over how China has handled the coronavirus pandemic. Across the 14 nations surveyed, a median of 61% say China has done a bad job dealing with the outbreak. This is many more than say the same of the way the COVID-19 pandemic was handled by their own country or by international organizations like the World Health Organization or the European Union. Only the U.S. receives more negative evaluations from the surveyed publics, with a median of 84% saying the U.S. has handled the coronavirus outbreak poorly.

Disapproval of how China has handled the COVID-19 pandemic also colors people’s confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping. A median of 78% say they have not too much or no confidence in him to do the right thing regarding world affairs, including at least seven-in-ten in every country surveyed. This lack of confidence in Xi is at historic highs in every country for which trend data is available except Japan and Spain. In most countries, the percent saying they have not too much or no confidence in him has grown by double digits since last year. For example, in the Netherlands, whereas around half distrusted Xi last year, today 70% say the same – up 17 percentage points.

But, even as concerns about Xi rise, in most countries, more have faith in President Xi than in President Trump. For example, in Germany, 78% say they have no confidence in Xi – but 89% say the same of Trump. Still, while Xi’s global image is somewhat better than Trump’s, it nonetheless is significantly worse than several of the other world leaders asked about, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

When it comes to perceptions of economic strength, China fares relatively well in the survey. Of four options given, people in most countries polled are most likely to see China as the world’s top economy. This is particularly true in Europe, where a plurality or majority in every country surveyed says China is the world’s leading economic power. Outside of the U.S. itself – where 52% of Americans say the U.S. is the world’s leading economic power – only in Japan (53%) and South Korea (77%) do more name the U.S. than China.

But even while pluralities or majorities in most countries note China’s economic strength relative to the U.S., this opinion does little to color attitude toward China more broadly. In almost every country surveyed, people who name China as the top economic power and people who name the U.S. are equally likely to have unfavorable views of China. People’s own pocketbooks also have little bearing on their views of China. In most countries surveyed, those with higher income levels are equally likely as those with lower levels of income to give the country low marks. 1

These are among the findings of a new Pew Research Center survey, conducted June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020, among 14,276 adults in 14 countries.

Negative views of China on the rise

A majority in each of the 14 countries surveyed has an unfavorable view of China. In most countries, around three-quarters or more see the country in a negative light. In Spain, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, the U.S., the UK, South Korea, Sweden and Australia, negative views have reached their highest level in the 12 or more years that Pew Research Center has been polling in these countries.

Around a third or more in Belgium, Denmark, the UK, Sweden, Canada, the U.S., Australia and Japan also have very unfavorable views of China. In both the UK and Australia, this is more than twice as many as said they had very unfavorable views of China last year.

In most countries, views soured significantly since just last year. For example, in Australia – where efforts to investigate China’s role in the spread of COVID-19 have led to heated trade frictions – negative views of China have gone up 24 percentage points since 2019. This is also the largest year-on-year change in Australia since the question was first asked in 2008.

Negative views increased by double digits over the past year in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the U.S., South Korea and Spain.

While these changes since last year are stark, in some countries, they are part of a larger trajectory. In the U.S., for example, unfavorable opinion of China has ticked up steadily since 2018. Similarly, in South Korea, the UK, the Netherlands, Canada and Sweden, this marks the second year in a row where negative views have reached historic highs.

As has traditionally been the case in Pew Research Center polling, older people tend to have more unfavorable views of China than younger people. For example, in Australia, 68% of those under 30 have an unfavorable view of China, compared with 86% of those ages 50 and older. This also marks the first year in which a majority of younger Australians have an unfavorable view of China in 2019, 45% of those under 30 reported the same.

In the U.S., too, 2020 is the first year in which more than half of young Americans expressed negative views toward China. The only country surveyed in which younger people hold more unfavorable views of China than their elders is South Korea.

In contrast, education plays little role in people’s assessments of China. Across each of the 14 countries surveyed, those with a postsecondary degree or more are equally likely to have unfavorable views of China as those with less education. Men and women are also equally likely to have unfavorable views of China in nearly all countries surveyed.

In the U.S., Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party hold more unfavorable views of China than Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party. Aside from the U.S. – where conservatives tend to have more unfavorable views of China than liberals – ideology has little or no relationship with views of China in the other countries surveyed.

Most think China has not handled COVID-19 outbreak well

After initial cases of the coronavirus started appearing in China’s Hubei Province in late 2019, many around the world questioned the expediency of China’s response to the outbreak, and others critiqued some of the measures Beijing used to contain the virus within its borders. But in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the outbreak, the strict lockdown has ended and the new case count plummeted to at or near zero by May.

Among the 14 advanced economies surveyed, most rate China’s COVID-19 response negatively. A median of 61% say China has done a bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, while 37% believe the country has done a good job.

At least six-in-ten in Canada and the U.S. rate China’s handling of the coronavirus as poor. More than half in seven European nations share this view, including 72% in Denmark and 65% in Sweden. Spaniards and Italians are split, with nearly equal shares saying China has handled the pandemic well versus not well.

The most negative reviews of China’s COVID-19 response come from three nations in the Asia-Pacific region. More than seven-in-ten in Japan, South Korea and Australia say China has done a bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, including more than four-in-ten in each country who say they did a very bad job.

Assessments of China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak are generally much more negative than those given to other nations and institutions. Publics give the highest ratings to their own country’s coronavirus response (median of 73% good job). And a median of about six-in-ten say the World Health Organization and European Union have done a good job dealing with the coronavirus. The exception to this pattern comes in assessments of the United States’ handling of the virus, which receives even more negative ratings on its COVID-19 strategy: A median of 84% believe the American response to the pandemic has been bad, while just 15% rate it as good.

Perceptions of how well China has done handling the coronavirus pandemic color people’s overall views of the country. Those who think China has done a bad job dealing with COVID-19 are much more likely to have an unfavorable view of the country – and the difference is at least 20 percentage points in every country surveyed. For example, in Italy, those who say China has done a bad job handling the coronavirus pandemic are twice as likely to report an unfavorable view of China – 82% vs. 41%, respectively.

In Europe, more see China as world’s top economic power than U.S.

Many major economies are predicted to contract in 2020 amid the pandemic, including those of the U.S., Japan and the euro area. In contrast, the Chinese economy is expected to achieve positive, if modest, growth. Across the 14 countries surveyed, when asked to evaluate the relative economic standing of these areas, a median of 48% identify China as the world’s leading economic power. The U.S. comes second, with a median of 35% seeing it as the world’s top economic power. 2 Few see Japan or EU countries similarly.

In most European countries surveyed, about half or more consider China the world’s top economy, compared with about a third who say the same about the U.S. Evaluations of China’s economic standing have a double-digit edge on evaluations of the U.S. economy in seven of the nine European countries. For example, Belgians are 22 percentage points more likely to say China is the top economy than to name the U.S. (54% vs. 32%). At least one-in-ten in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands also name the countries of the EU as the world’s leading economic power – the highest among all countries surveyed.

South Korea and Japan are the only two countries – aside from the U.S. itself – where more see the U.S. as the world’s leading economy than China. South Koreans are particularly likely to name the U.S., with 77% naming the U.S. as the dominant global economy.

Over the past few years, evaluations of these countries’ international economic standing have generally held steady in the countries surveyed. Such evaluations also do not differ across different age groups and education or income levels, but men are more likely than women to say the U.S. is the world’s leading economic power in half of the countries surveyed.

Little confidence in President Xi to do the right thing in world affairs

Across the 14 countries surveyed, a median of 78% say they have no confidence in Chinese President Xi to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs, with at least seven-in-ten in every country saying they lack confidence in Xi. Only a median of 19% express any trust.

In the U.S., a majority say they have no confidence at all in Xi (55%), and about half in Canada say the same (47%). No more than a quarter report having any confidence in him in either country.

Europeans report similarly low levels of trust in Xi. A third or more in each country surveyed say they have no confidence at all in the Chinese president, including at least half in Sweden, France and Denmark.

About half in Japan and Australia also say they have no confidence at all in Xi. Japan also stands out as a country where less than 0.5% of the public – effectively no one – reports having a lot of confidence in China’s president, though no more than 5% report having a lot of confidence in him in any country surveyed.

The survey also asked about confidence in five other world leaders. Only confidence in U.S. President Trump is lower than confidence in Xi. When considering median confidence, Russian President Vladimir Putin receives slightly higher marks, while confidence in European leaders Merkel, Macron and Johnson are at least twice as high as in Xi.

Distrust in President Xi has reached unprecedented highs in all countries for which past data is available except for Japan and Spain. The increase in distrust has been especially sharp in the last year nine of 12 countries have seen a double-digit increase in the share who say they have no confidence in Xi. In Australia, for example, 54% had little or no confidence in Xi in 2019, and now 79% say the same, a 25 percentage point increase.

Confidence in Xi is low among men and women, those with higher and lower levels of education, across age groups and among those with higher and lower incomes.

It is also closely related to people’s assessments of how China is handling the coronavirus outbreak. People who think China has done a good job handling COVID-19 are more likely to have confidence in the Chinese president. For instance, 38% of Spaniards who compliment China’s outbreak response trust Xi compared with 9% of those who do not – a 29 percentage point difference. Still, no more than about four-in-ten of those who rate China’s coronavirus outbreak response positively say they trust Xi.


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  4. Daibei

    You are not right. I invite you to discuss. Write in PM.

  5. Sagis

    Sorry for offtopic, can you tell me where Mona can get the same nice template for a blog?

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