Americans, Chinese disagree on world’s top economy

Zachary Snider Contributor
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A study published Tuesday by the Pew Center found that while Chinese citizens view America as the world’s top economy, American citizens view China as the top dog.

Pew researchers found that 48 percent of the 3,177 Chinese citizens surveyed said that the U.S. is the world’s leading economic power, compared to 29 percent who said that China is the world’s leading economic power.

Of the 1,011 Americans surveyed, 41 percent said that China is the dominant economic force in the world compared to 40 percent who said the U.S. is economically dominant.

The Gross Domestic Product of the United States is roughly double that of China.

“I think it’s been a lot of news about the rise of China and its economic power in the U.S. and Western Europe, who have a lot of concerns about their own economic situations,” Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, told The Daily Caller. “In China we see growing awareness that China is a major power, but they just don’t think they have surpassed the U.S. as the world’s top economy.”

The Global Attitudes Project is a study that was conducted in 21 countries, seeking insight on each population’s view of religion, domestic government, economics and foreign relations. Of the 21 countries, 11 view the Chinese economy as superior to the American economy.

“When you look at what’s getting produced… in that sense I think that people find that China is a stronger economy,” Al Lewis, a business columnist for Dow Jones Newswires, told TheDC.

Lewis noted that while the American economy is based on borrowing and consuming, the Chinese economy is based investing and producing. A large amount of the money our government borrows comes from China, and a large amount of the products we buy are produced by China.

“We fear China is beating us at our own game,” Lewis wrote in a column about the findings of an earlier Pew Center survey.

Pew researchers discovered several growing concerns among the Chinese, including economic inequality, inflation, pollution, political corruption and consumer safety.

While the study indicates that the Chinese are one of the happiest populations in terms of economic prosperity, Wike asserts that these concerns are directly related to their economic success.

Eighty-one percent of Chinese citizens surveyed acknowledged a widening gap between the rich and the poor, and one-third said that hard work doesn’t necessarily breed economic success.

Four years ago, food safety was only a major concern among 12 percent of the population, but today, 41 percent are concerned about food safety standards. Concern about the safety of medicine has tripled in the last four years from 9 percent to 28 percent, and 33 percent worry about the quality of manufactured goods, compared to 13 percent in 2008.

Half of the Chinese population is concerned about corrupt leadership — up 11 points since 2008.

The study also shows increased wariness of the U.S. among Chinese citizens. Forty-three percent of those surveyed see relations with the U.S. as favorable compared to 48 percent who see them as unfavorable. In 2010, 58 percent saw relations with the U.S. as favorable while 37 percent said they were unfavorable.

One demographic of the Chinese population, however, views Americans positively: Young, educated, rich urbanite is likely to hold a favorable view of U.S. customs, culture, business practices, government and technological ambition.

“We see a little bit of this same pattern around the world, but it’s particularly true in China,” Wike said. “It fits into the broader pattern of young people being a little bit more open to these different elements of American image around the world.”