Majorities or pluralities in 12 countries express a favorable opinion of the United States, while the prevailing view is negative in only five nations. In three countries views are closely divided.
Attitudes toward the U.S. are generally more positive today than in 2008, the final year of the George W. Bush administration. The biggest improvements in America’s image have occurred among Europeans – in France, Spain, and Germany, the percentage of people with a positive view of the U.S. is at least 20 percentage points higher than in 2008.
Across much of the globe, people continue to believe the U.S. acts unilaterally in world affairs. However, three of the four BRIC countries – an acronym applied to these nations because of their emerging economies –are exceptions to this pattern. More than half in Brazil (55%) and China (51%) say the U.S. does take into account their interests when it is making foreign policy decisions. On balance, Indians also hold this view, although the percentage saying the U.S. considers India’s interests has declined from 57% last year to 44% today. In Russia, the fourth BRIC country, only 22% think the U.S. acts multilaterally.
Throughout Europe and the Middle East, majorities say the U.S. does not take into account the interests of countries like theirs.
Views about the economic balance of power have shifted dramatically over time among the 14 countries surveyed each year from 2008 to 2012. In 2008, before the onset of the global financial crisis, a median of 45% named the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power, while just 22% said China. Today, only 36% say the U.S., while 42% believe China is in the top position.Indeed, the US entertainment industry is showing increasing deference to China, as the Los Angeles Times reports:
In "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,"a romantic comedy about building a dam in the Mideast, Chinese hydroelectric engineers showed off their know-how; the original book included no such characters. In Columbia Pictures' disaster movie"2012," the White House chief of staff extolled the Chinese as visionaries after an ark built by the country's scientists saves civilization.
In fact, references to the Middle Kingdom are popping up with remarkable frequency in movies these days. Some are conspicuously flattering or gratuitous additions designed to satisfy Chinese business partners and court audiences in the largest moviegoing market outside the U.S. Others, filmmakers say, are simply organic reflections of the fact thatChina is a rising political, economic and cultural power.
Meanwhile, Chinese bad guys are vanishing — literally. Western studios are increasingly inclined to excise potentially negative references to China in the hope that the films can pass muster with Chinese censors and land one of several dozen coveted annual revenue-sharing import quota slots in Chinese cinemas.
The net effect is a situation that movie-business veterans say is unprecedented: The suppressive tendencies of a foreign nation are altering what is seen not just in one country but around the world.
"It's a clear-cut case — maybe the first I can think of in the history of Hollywood — where a foreign country's censorship board deeply affects what we produce," said a leading Hollywood producer who, like several others interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to offend potential Chinese partners.