In a Global Popularity Contest, U.S. Beats China

But people around the world increasingly think China will one day be the leading economic power, according to a new poll.

FILE - In this Sept. 4, 2007 file photo, workers assemble toy cars on the production line at a toy factory in Dongguan, China. Global manufacturers struggling with life-or-death pressures to control costs are finding that the legions of low-wage Chinese workers they rely on have limits.  (AP)

China's economy may be on the rise, but the United States is still viewed more positively around the world.

That's according to a Pew Research survey released Thursday. After polling people in 39 countries around the world, spanning the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, Pew reported that 63 percent have a favorable view of the U.S., compared with 50 percent who have a favorable view of China.

Africa, where the Chinese have invested heavily in recent years, gives China a large boost in popularity numbers.

Thirty percent of those polled have an unfavorable view of the U.S., while 36 percent have a negative impression of China.

Additionally, more people in the world view the U.S. as a partner (59 perecent) than view China that way (39 percent).

The United States is also seen as respecting individual rights more than China, by 70 percent to 36 percent. However, more people think both the U.S. and China are looking after their own interests than think the two superpowers are supporting the interests of people around the world.

Overall, Pew notes that America's popularity has increased since President Obama took office. He is still widely viewed positively around the world, in some cases recording higher approval numbers than he gets in the U.S. In the 39 countries surveyed, a majority or more of people in 28 countries have a positive view of Obama. His numbers have been on the decline since he took office, though, which Pew credits to the U.S. drone program and other policies.

China's Rising Stock

Although the U.S. may be more popular around the world, its stock as a global power seems to be decreasing. Since the recent economic crisis, global impressions of the U.S. economy have been dropping, compared with impressions of China. While 41 percent see the United States as the world's leading economic power, compared with 34 percent margin who name China, the world's impression of the Chinese economy has risen since 2008, and the impression of the U.S. economy has declined. Here are the comparisons:

Who is the world's leading economic power?

2008: U.S. 47%, China 20% 2013: U.S. 41%, China 34%

Even American allies around the globe think China has the leading economy, including 53 percent of people in the United Kingdom and 59 percent in Germany. Only 14 percent of those polled in the European Union think the U.S. is the global economic leader.

Similarly, many in Europe and Latin America think China will one day be a bigger economic power than the U.S., despite the alliances those nations may have with this country.

So, what's propping the U.S. up in this area? Generally, people in Latin America, Africa, and many Asian countries still give the U.S. the upper hand on this question. Take China's backyard: 67 percent of Japanese, 67 percent of Filipinos, and 61 percent of South Koreans think the U.S. is the leading economic power.

However, these numbers don't change the overall impression that China will one day surpass the U.S. in this regard. Of the 39 nations surveyed, a majority or plurality in 23 countries think China will replace the U.S. in the top economic spot — a belief that has increased since 2008.

These numbers align with the way the Chinese think about their own chances of becoming a global power. Of those surveyed there, 66 percent think their country will become or already is the global economic leader.

Even in the U.S., the numbers don't look too optimistic: Americans are split 47 percent to 47 percent on whether China will replace their country as the global economic power.

This poll was conducted in 39 countries among 37,653 people from March 2 to May 1. Further numbers of margins of error are outlined country-by-country here.