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Indians hold best opinion of US: survey

June 25, 2005 04:33 IST

A survey covering 16 countries shows that America's image is stronger in India than in the other nations. The survey, by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center and which polled 17,000 people, found that 71 percent of the Indian public holds a positive opinion of the United States, up from 54 percent in 2002.

The survey also found that most nations have a negative opinion of the United States. In the Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain, approval ratings ranged from 41 percent to 45 percent. Opposition to the US was particularly strong in Islamic countries such as Turkey, Pakistan and Jordan, where approval ratings hovered in the low 20's.

However, Pew noted, "There is modest optimism among Muslims that the Middle East will become more democratic. And even in countries like Jordan and Pakistan, where people have low regard for the US, many who believe the region will become more democratic give some credit to US policies for making this possible."

The survey said people in most countries resisted embracing US foreign policy under President Bush.

"President George W Bush's calls for greater democracy in the Middle East and US aid for tsunami victims in Asia have been well-received in many countries, but only in Indonesia, India and Russia has there been significant improvement in overall opinions of the US."

Japan, France and Germany received high approval ratings from Europeans. Conversely, Americans who were surveyed held a very low opinion of France (46 percent approval), while expressing strong approval for their own government (83 percent).

The report also examined changing attitudes towards China as it assumes a larger role in international affairs. While most Europeans and Asians look favorably upon China's growth, many Europeans are concerned about its military growth, and do not wish to see it become a military superpower like the United States. However, most people in Turkey and other Islamic countries believe "a Chinese challenge to American military power would be a good thing."

The report made clear that negative opinions of the US are specific to the policies and government of the US, and not its people. However, in many countries, public opinion of the American people has also slipped in recent years.

Arun Venugopal