Middle-income countries view China’s economic influence more positively, Pew research finds
Published: Jul 10, 2024 09:21 PM
A view in Shanghai Photo: VCG

A view in Shanghai Photo: VCG

A report released by the Washington-based Pew Research Center on Tuesday indicates an increasing global economic influence of China between 2019 and 2024, with respondents from middle-income countries holding a predominantly positive view of China's influence on their domestic economies.

Experts attribute the shift in perception among developing countries to China's economic structure and increased international economic collaboration, especially within middle-income countries. Additional factors, including public opinion and political elements, may have also influenced the survey outcomes.

The Pew Research Center surveyed 35 countries across six continents with varied income levels, revealing that two-thirds or more of the respondents in the countries surveyed perceive China as significantly influencing their domestic economic conditions.

Notably, according to Pew, in the 17 middle-income countries surveyed, a median of 47 percent of adults sees China's influence on their economy as positive, significantly outweighing the 29 percent who view it negatively.

Chinese-made products have been fulfilling the developmental need of many developing countries, offering them more cost-effective options. Additionally, China's investments in several middle-income countries, such as Mexico, have boosted local economies, He Weiwen, a senior fellow from the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Zhou Mi, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, noted that China and the middle-income countries share closer economic development levels, which enhances prospects for industrial cooperation and facilitates easier partnerships, Zhou suggested that cooperation has led to a more positive economic view of China on these counties.

China's economic and trade cooperation with Latin American countries has also strengthened over the past few years based on mutual trust and shared development goals. Respondents from trade partners, including Brazil and Mexico, are more likely to think of China's economic influence positively, Zhou explained.

Moreover, experts believe that public opinion and political factors play a significant role in survey results. In middle-income countries, where political environments are generally more relaxed and attitudes toward China friendlier, respondents are more likely to objectively assess China's economic influence, He stated.

The Pew survey also indicates that in the 18 developed countries surveyed, only about 28 percent of respondents had a positive view of China's economic influence. 

Developed countries have a more negative perception of China's economic influence, which is largely due to Western media bias following protectionist trade and investment rhetoric against China, Zhou said.

Additionally, countries including the US and Japan have increased economic and trade restrictions against China, blocking Chinese products and investment, which, although supposedly put in place to protect their own national interests, have also led to higher economic costs and direct impacts on their domestic consumers, leading to inflation and supply shortages. These factors have made some respondents mistakenly attribute these negative effects to China's economic influence, Zhou concluded.