Asian Views of US Rise Sharply as China Slips

Approval of U.S. leadership in the world surged across Asia in 2021, with the biggest gains registered in Laos, South Korea and Vietnam, according to a Gallup survey released Friday.

The median approval rate across 33 countries polled in the survey stood at 41% last year, up 10 percentage points over the previous year, Gallup reported. Approval of Chinese leadership slipped by one point to 27% during the same period.

Respondents were also asked about their views of the leadership in Germany, which topped the poll at 43%, and Russia, which stood at 33%. The survey was conducted before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The findings will be welcome news for the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, who is planning a high-stakes summit with the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next month.

The 41% approval rate for U.S. leadership was higher than at any point during the administration of former president Donald Trump, Gallup said, but was still below the 45% level recorded in a 2013 poll.

“Notably, the approval rating for the U.S. is based largely on data collected during or after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in August 2021,” Gallup said. Despite the tumult that withdrawal caused, the dismal 14% rating in that country was no worse than in 2019.

The only Asian country with a less favorable view of U.S. leadership was Iran, where the figure stood at 7%. Low levels of approval were also seen in Turkey, at 22%, and Pakistan, at 23%.

The most dramatic increase in approval of U.S. leadership was in Laos, where the level shot up from a miniscule 4% in 2020 to 34% last year. The approval rating rose 29 points, to 59%, in South Korea and 24 points, to 45%, in Vietnam.

Improvements of 20 points or more were also recorded in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, all U.S. allies. The highest approval level anywhere in Asia, 71%, was recorded in the Philippines.

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