In most regions of the world, opinion of the United States continues to be more favorable than it was in the Bush years. But U.S. image now faces a new challenge: doubts about America’s status as a global superpower. In 15 of 22 nations surveyed, the balance of opinion is that China either will replace or already has replaced the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower.

This view is especially widespread in Western Europe, where at least six-in-ten people in France (72%), Spain (67%), Britain (65%) and Germany (61%) see China overtaking the U.S.

Majorities in China, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories and Mexico also foresee China supplanting the U.S. as the world’s leading power. In most countries for which trends are available, the view that China will overtake the U.S. has become much more prevalent over the past two years. In particular, this view has increased by 10 or more percentage points in Spain, France, Pakistan, Britain, Jordan, Israel, Poland and Germany. The share of Americans who say that China will eventually overshadow or has already overshadowed the U.S.increased from 33% in 2009 to 46% in 2011.

This shift in perception about the global balance of power might have economic origins, as the U.S. is increasingly seen as trailing China economically. This view is especially people in Western Europe. Since 2009, there has been a double digit increase in the percentage naming China as the top economic power in Spain, Germany, Britain and France. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.