Fri Jun 2, 2006 Copyright Reuters
BERLIN (Reuters) – The United States will lose its position as the
world’s undisputed leading power over the next decade and a half, with
China emerging as a formidable rival, according to a new survey from
Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation.
In the survey, based on interviews of 10,250 people worldwide, 57
percent of respondents said they believed the United States would be a
world power in the year 2020 compared to 55 percent who saw China in
That compared to 81 percent who currently see the United States as a
world power and 45 percent who believe China has already attained that
The survey, entitled “World Powers in the 21st Century” was conducted
the Gallup and TNS Emnid polling institutes in nine countries —
China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and
United States — between October and December 2005. Between 1,000 and
1,500 interviews were conducted in each of the countries.
The survey showed the Chinese themselves are confident they will gain
influence on the global stage. A full 71 percent of Chinese respondents
said their country would be a world power by 2020, compared to 44
percent who see China in that role today.
By comparison, 54 percent of Americans see China as a global power in
2020, up slightly from the 51 percent who already view China that way.
The survey showed that India would also rise as a world power, with 24
percent of respondents assigning it that status in 2020 against only 12
Besides the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and
were expected to decline in status, shedding 11, 6, 5 and 5 percentage
points, respectively in the next 15 years.
Of the respondents within those five declining countries, only those in
France went against the international trend and said their country
gain in status from now until 2020 — with 33 percent of French seeing
their country as a world power today and 35 percent in 2020.
DIFFERENCES ON MILITARY POWER, TERRORISM
The survey showed that people in the nine countries considered
power and potential for growth” as the most important quality for a
There was disagreement on the importance of “military power” as a
factor, with a third of respondents in China and the United States
listing it as crucial, but only 7 percent in Germany and 16 percent in
Japan viewing it as important.
There were also differences in how the countries viewed the main
challenges confronting the world. In seven of the nine countries, over
50 percent of respondents listed international terrorism as the chief
But in China and Brazil less than a third of those surveyed put
terrorism in that category. The Chinese listed environmental
and scarcity of natural resources as top threats.
In only China and Germany was a majority of the population of the
opinion that peace and stability in the world could best be achieved
under the leadership of the United Nations.