The Debate

Asian Nations Are Not Popular Worldwide: BBC Poll

Pakistan and Iran are viewed more negatively than North Korea, while India and China’s popularity sharply decreased this year.

Asia is not very popular around the world and the popularity of many countries in the region is trending downward, according to an annual poll by the BBC.

The 2013 edition of the BBC World Service’s Country Ratings Poll ranks the popularity of 16 countries and the EU based on whether over 26,000 respondents in 25 countries viewed their influence around the world as “mostly positive” or “mostly negative.”

After ranking as the most popular country in the world in 2012, Japan fell to fourth place this year as positive views of it declined by 7 percent while negative views were up by 6 percent. Overall, however, 51 percent of respondents said they viewed Tokyo’s influence as positive whereas just 27 percent viewed it negatively. This still made it the top ranking Asian country and the only one to be included in the top half of the poll.

The greater Asia-Pacific did manage to round out the bottom three spots this year with Iran remaining the most unpopular country in the world followed by Pakistan and North Korea. Only 15 percent of respondents expressed favorably views of Iran and Pakistan while 59 percent and 55 percent expressed negative views of the countries respectively. 19 percent of people surveyed said they viewed North Korea’s influence around the world as mostly positive, compared to 54 percent who said it was mostly negative.

India and Russia were the 13th and 14th most popular nations of the ones asked about with 34 percent of respondents viewing Delhi as positive and 35 percent of respondents viewing it negatively. The comparable figures for Russia were 30 percent and 40 percent respectively.

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This was a dramatic reversal for India from 2012 when 40 percent of the people surveyed said they viewed the country as a positive influence in the world while only 27 percent held negative views of it. 50 percent or more of the publics in Germany, Spain, Australia and Pakistan viewed India negatively while only in Indonesia, Nigeria, and India itself did more than 50 percent of respondents hold mostly positive views of India.

South Korea also found itself on the bottom half of the poll ranking tenth with 36 percent expressing positive views (down from 37 last year) and 31 percent expressing negative views of Seoul. Still, because of drops in other countries popularity, these numbers still pushed South Korea up two spots from last year’s poll.

Coming in at 9th place, China landed the median ranking on the survey with 40 percent of respondents expressing a positive view of it and the same percentage expressing a negative view of it. This was the most dramatic reversal from last year of any one country in the survey, with positive views of China declining by 8 percentage points and negative views of the country increasing by the same percentage.  

50 percent or more of the publics in Canada, the United States, the UK, Turkey, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, South Korea and Japan held negative views of China while 50 percent or more of respondents in Chile, Brazil, Peru, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, and China itself had positive views. Not surprisingly, Japanese held the least favorable views of China with only 5 percent expressing favorable ones compared to 64 percent of Japanese respondents who expressed negative views of Beijing. By contrast, more Nigerians and Pakistanis expressed favorable views of China than Chinese respondents themselves.

China’s decline in popularity reversed the upward trend it had experienced since 2010.

Germany was the most popular country of the ones the BBC World Service asked about followed by Canada and the UK.