Asians' trust in US waning: poll

Updated: 2006-10-13 06:57

WASHINGTON - Asians see the United States losing its undisputed superpower status in 50 years to possibly China amid waning trust in Washington to act responsibly in the world, a poll shows.

In the immediate term, US power in the eyes of Asians remains secure, according to the study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA), an independent US think tank.

US influence today is "substantially above any other country" even as others have gained clout, and Asians do not predict much decline in US influence over the next decade, according to the survey in partnership with the US-based Asia Society.

In half a century, however, a majority in all countries covered by the poll -- China, India,

South Korea and the United States -- believed "another nation" will become as powerful or surpass the United States in power.

"There is a clear agreement across the board that over the next half century Asians see the United States no more the sole superpower that it is or considered to be today," CCGA president Marshall Bouton told a news conference in Washington.

The survey did not specify in its questions which nation people believe will match or overtake the United States.

"We can only infer what nation people had in mind when they answered that question," Bouton said. When asked whether it was China, he said "I guess so."

China has become a global manufacturing power and is already displacing the United States as the primary trading partner for many nations.

"It is utilizing increased East Asian economic interdependence and skillful diplomacy to co-opt the interests of its neighbours and assert its influence throughout Asia," Bouton said.

China has also amassed the world's largest trade surplus and world's largest foreign exchange reserves. Its current account surplus has already surpassed that of Japan, the world's second richest economy after the United States.

According to the survey, the Chinese see themselves as the second greatest power in the world today and becoming the equal of the United States within 10 years, and Asians were quite comfortable with this rise.

The poll also found Asians, including the Chinese, still wanting the United States to remain engaged in the region though they express low trust in the United States to act responsibly.

On the prolonged Iraq war, Asians agreed with Americans that the conflict has not reduced the threat of terrorism, will not lead to the spread of democracy in the Middle East and has worsened relations with the Muslim world.

Trust in the United States to act responsibly in the world is "low," according to the poll.

In both China and India, the poll findings showed the public viewing their countries as important and rising powers.

In China, a very large majority -- 87 percent -- is enthusiastic about playing an active role in world affairs and nine in 10 favor their country becoming more powerful economically and militarily.

In India, most also would like to see their country play a greater role in world affairs -- 56 percent favor an active role -- than it currently does although Indians are less ambitious about this than the Chinese.