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Asian Poll Foresees US Losing Superpower Status To China

AFP | October 12 2006

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 showed Wednesday. But most Asians felt the growth of Chinese military power would be a potential source of conflict between major powers in the region, according to the study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA), an independent US think tank.

In the immediate term, US power in the eyes of Asians remains secure.

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

While Asians, according to the survey, were quite comfortable with the rise of China, there seems to be some concern that the rise of Chinese military power will be destabilizing for the region.

Eighty-eight percent of South Koreans and 77 percent of Indians said it was likely that the growth of Chinese military power would be a potential source of conflict between major powers in Asia.

Interestingly, more Americans see this potential source of conflict in Asia as "very likely" than Asians themselves.

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.


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