War in Ukraine widens global divide in public attitudes to US, China and Russia – research shows
- In this report, we examine how worldwide attitudes towards the major international powers – China, Russia, and the United States – are shifting in the wake of the Ukraine war, China’s rising assertiveness, and recent challenges to American democracy.
- We do so by harmonising and merging data from 30 global survey projects that collectively span 137 countries which represent 97% of world population. This includes 75 countries surveyed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, giving us updated insights into the current views of 83% of all people across the globe.
- As a result, our analysis covers not only high-income democracies but also a comprehensive coverage of emerging economies and the Global South – revealing a marked divergence between the two.
- On the one hand, western democracies stand more firmly than ever behind the United States. Not only that, but the war in Ukraine has galvanised democratic societies worldwide – as the peoples of upper-income democracies in South America, the Asia-Pacific, and Eastern Europe have also moved to a more pro-American stance.
- However, across a vast span of countries stretching from continental Eurasia to the north and west of Africa, we find the opposite – societies that have moved closer to China and Russia over the course of the last decade. As a result, China and Russia are now narrowly ahead of the United States in their popularity among developing countries.
- While the war in Ukraine has accentuated this divide, it has been a decade in the making. As a result, the world is torn between two opposing clusters: a maritime alliance of democracies, led by the United States; and a Eurasian bloc of illiberal or autocratic states, centred upon Russia and China.
- We suggest that this new cleavage cannot be reduced to simple economic interests or geopolitical convenience. Rather, it follows a clear political and ideological divide. Across the world, the strongest predictors of how societies align respective to China or the United States are their fundamental values and institutions – including beliefs in freedom of expression, personal choice, and the extent to which democratic institutions are practised and perceived to be legitimate.