In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the images of China and the United States have been tarnished for different reasons. In the case of Beijing, its initial mishandling of the novel coronavirus outbreak and subsequent hard lockdown of Wuhan and Hebei Province revealed both the strengths and the weaknesses of its political system.
In contrast, despite early warnings of the severity of the virus, the U.S.’ handling of the pandemic has revealed the dysfunction in the U.S. political system and under U.S. President Donald Trump’s leadership there have been over 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.
Internationally, the favorability ratings of both China and the U.S. continue to drop. A recent EU PEW survey released on May 18 showed only 37 percent of Germans viewed the U.S. in a favorable light. China fairs no better at 36 percent.
These results mirror NHK’s May 19 poll in which 57 percent of respondents viewed Trump’s re-election negatively, and the Genron NPO poll of October 2019 that found 84.7 percent of surveyed Japanese have unfavorable views of China.
The U.S.’ unfavorability rating is related to the character and nature of the Trump presidency, which eschews multilateralism, America “first-ism,” and the use of bullying tactics to push allies into shouldering a greater burden in their security and economic partnerships.
The Trump factor in the unfavorable views of the U.S. in the European Union are understandable. His policies are in direct opposition to what the EU (and many other liberal democracies) stands for, international institutions, international norms and international law, and also the fight against climate change.
Japan’s views are more nuanced. They view the U.S. favorably but see the Trump administration as escalating tensions in Japan’s backyard without a strategy. Simply put, Japan has a lot to lose if the current foreign policy trajectory continues.
In the case of China, its unfavorability ratings are less related to President Xi Jinping and more related to long-term behavior that has turned citizens from many countries against the polices of the Chinese Communist Party.
This is a portion of Professor Stephen Nagy`s piece. He can be found on youtube, CDC, NHK in Japan and other news outlets around the globe. He is a geopolitical expert who writes extensively on China, Japan and India (others as well).