Poll makes better reading for Biden than China’s Xi before expected summit

By David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ahead of an expected meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping next week, a U.S. think tank says data it has collected from two dozen countries shows the American leader is winning the battle for public opinion.

The Pew Research Center says it surveyed 30,861 adults in 24 countries between Feb. 20 and May 22 about their attitudes to the world’s two largest economies and their leadership.

“People in 23 countries tend to see U.S. President Joe Biden more positively than Chinese President Xi Jinping,” it said in a report released on Monday. “A median of 54% have confidence in Biden to do the right thing regarding world affairs, compared with 19% who say the same of Xi.”

Pew said it did not ask people in the United States about their confidence in Biden’s handling of world affairs and says it is no longer able to conduct independent surveys in China, so does not survey there.

The countries surveyed were the United States, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain and Sweden.

Pew said its findings showed China was seen unfavorably in North America, Europe, and Asia but more favorably in Africa and Latin America.

The gap in favor of Biden tended to be quite large in high-income contries, but even in most middle-income countries more had confidence in Biden than Xi, with Indonesia and Hungary being notable exceptions. The leaders received nearly identical marks in those countries, Pew said.

“This year, overall views of the United States are much more positive than views of China in most places surveyed,” it said.

“A median of 59% offer positive evaluations of the U.S., compared with a median of 28% who say the same of China.”

Pew said that in nearly two decades of its favorability polling, views of the countries have fluctuated alongside views of their leaders, but those of the U.S. under Biden had rebounded dramatically in many of the countries surveyed, while those of China were at their most negative levels.

While majorities in most countries saw both the U.S. and China as prone to interfere in the affairs of other countries, the U.S. was almost always more likely to be described that way.

However, the U.S. “gets higher marks for contributing to global peace and stability than China,” the survey said.

“On balance, views of the U.S. are much more positive than views of China,” Pew said.

Biden and Xi are expected to meet on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco next week, although China has yet to confirm this, and a senior Biden administration official said last week important details had still to be hammered out.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing by Jonathan Oatis)