For many Westerners, the pandemic has increased the influence of Beijing

Pour nombre d'Occidentaux, la pandémie a accru l'influence de Beijing

WASHINGTON | The pandemic coronavirus has pushed a growing number of Westerners who consider China as a leading power, with the influence of the United States in decline, according to a study published Tuesday.

An extensive opinion survey has been conducted on the subject with French, Germans and Americans by the think tank German Marshall Fund of the United States.

In the month of may, more than a quarter of French people interviewed saw in China the power of the most influential in the world, compared to only 13 % of them in January. The trend was similar in Germany (from 12% in January to 20 % in may) and in the United States (from 6 to 14 %).

In the three countries, the United States were still regarded as the nation’s most influential, but less overwhelming.

“Before the crisis, the chinese influence in the world was a kind of abstract idea,” says Martin Quencez, assistant at the Paris office of the centre of reflection.

“When you think about the dependence on China for masks and medical equipment, for example, it has become very concrete.”

He sees in this change a lasting impact, having observed this evolution from all generations and individualistic tendencies.

In France and Germany, the public interviewed hoped that their governments show more severe against Beijing in the area of climate change, human rights and cybersecurity.

The figures were lower in the United States, possibly because of the hard line already defended by the administration Trump, who pushes Europe to do the same.

With tensions already high between the United States and China on a background of a trade war were further intensified with the global spread of the new coronavirus, whose president, Donald Trump has blamed the Beijing.

The investigation has finally revealed a cleavage transatlantic about the influence of the United Kingdom, which has left the european Union in the beginning of the year.

53% of Americans viewed the United Kingdom as the most influential countries of Europe, an opinion only shared by 8 % of Germans and 6% of the French.

The investigation was conducted with the Bertelsmann Foundation in Germany and the Institut Montaigne in Paris, interviewing more than 1,000 people in each country, from 9 to 22 January and from 11 to 19 may.

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