Poll: 44% Americans see China as top economic power

08:36, December 04, 2009      

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A growing number of Americans deem China as the world's top economic power, revealed a recent opinion poll which also found Americans are adopting isolationist viewpoints in U.S. foreign affairs.

The poll, done by the Pew Research Center, said that Americans are turning away from the world, showing a tendency toward isolationism that has risen to the highest level in four decades.

Almost half, 49 percent, told the polling organization that the United States should "mind its own business" internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own, the Pew survey found. That's up from 30 percent who said that in December 2002.

While isolationism and unilateralism reached four-decade highs among the public, the stature of China increased.

Among Americans polled, 44 per cent said China was the world's leading economic power, compared with 27 percent who named the United States. In February 2008, 41 percent said the U.S. was the leading economic power, while 30 percent said China was.

However, a majority of Americans surveyed, or 53 percent, see China's emerging economic strength pose rising competition for the world power of the United States.

Results of the survey appear to conflict with U.S. President Obama's somehow activist foreign policy, including a newly announced buildup of 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to fight Taliban and al-Qaida.

Only 32 percent of the poll respondents favored increasing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, while 40 percent favored decreasing them.

Forty-one percent of those surveyed said the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago, up from 25 percent who said that just before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the report said.

Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut said in an interview that the "very bad economy" appeared most responsible for the growth of isolationist sentiment. He said the public was also "displeased with the two wars we are waging, in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The United States is seen by a comfortable majority, 63 percent, as the world's leading military power.

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