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How Do Chinese Citizens Feel About Other Countries?

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Chinese sentiment to other countries

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Public Opinion: How Chinese Citizens Feel About Other Countries

Tensions over Taiwan, the COVID-19 pandemic, trade, and the war in Ukraine have impacted Chinese sentiment towards other countries.

This visualization uses data from the Center for International Security and Strategy (CISS) at Tsinghua University to rank survey responses from the Chinese public on their attitudes towards countries and regions around the world.

Chinese Sentiment Towards Other Countries in 2023

In the Center’s opinion polls, which surveyed a random sample of more than 2,500 Chinese mainland adults in November 2022, Russia came out significantly ahead.

Just under 60% of respondents held Russia in a favorable view, with 19% seeing the country as “very favorable.” Contrast that to the mere 12% that viewed the U.S. in a positive light.

Here’s a closer look at the data. The percentages refer to the share of respondents that voted for said category.

Country/RegionVery
Unfavorable
Somewhat
Unfavorable
NeutralSomewhat
Favorable
Very
Favorable
🇺🇸 United States37.4%21.7%28.7%9.2%3.0%
🇯🇵 Japan 38.4%19.1%29.4%10.7%2.3%
🇮🇳 India25.4%25.2%41.5%6.7%1.3%
🇰🇷 South Korea17.4%21.0%47.6%11.8%2.1%
🇪🇺 European Union9.3%15.6%57.6%14.1%3.3%
Southeast Asia7.1%13.1%59.5%16.8%3.5%
🇷🇺 Russia3.0%4.8%33.7%39.4%19.0%

Japan ranked just below the U.S. in terms of overall unfavorability, though a slightly higher share of respondents saw Japan as “very unfavorable” compared to America. This is likely due to both modern tensions in the East China Sea over mutually claimed islands and historical tensions over the Sino-Japanese Wars.

Chinese sentiment towards India was also unfavorable at just over 50%, though notably the country also received the lowest favorability rating at just 8%.

Additional Survey Findings

The survey also found that 39% of Chinese people get their information on international security from Chinese state-run media (mainly through TV), with an additional 19% getting information from government websites and official social accounts. Conversely, only 1.7% get their news from foreign websites and foreign social media, partially due to the Great Firewall.

When asked about different international security issues, the biggest shares of Chinese citizens ranked the following as their top three:

  1. Pandemics (12.9%)
  2. Disputes over territory and territorial waters (12.9%)
  3. China-U.S. relations (12.0%)

The pandemic’s high score reflects the harsher impact COVID-19 had on China. Chinese borders were shut for years and the public faced intense measures to reduce spread.

In terms of other world events, the majority of Chinese people align with a more “Eastern” viewpoint. For example, in regards to the war in Ukraine, the report found that:

“About 80 percent of the respondents believe the U.S. and Western countries should be held most accountable [for the war], while less than ten percent of the respondents argue that Russia is mainly responsible.”– Center for International Security and Strategy, Tsinghua University

Overall, the views of the Chinese public reflect the opposite of those found in many Western countries. They provide an important insight that it is not just the Chinese government holding particular views about the world, but the Chinese public as well.

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War

Mapped: World’s Top 40 Largest Military Budgets

War in Europe has caused Ukraine’s military spend to jump up by 640%. How do the world’s largest military budgets compare?

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A map of the top 40 largest military budgets in the world in 2022.

Mapped: World’s Top 40 Largest Military Budgets

In the final year of World War II, the U.S. spent about 38% of its GDP on its military. When adjusted for inflation, the military budget over those four years of war came to a staggering $4.1 trillion in 2020 dollars.

Almost 80 years later, modern day military spending isn’t much of a far cry from World War II budgets. The top spenders have continued to increase their military capabilities, while war in Ukraine has caused countries in the region to re-evaluate their budgets as well.

In 2022, global military budgets hit an all-time high of $2.2 trillion, according to data released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the eighth consecutive year of increase. This post looks at the top 40 largest military budgets in the world.

The Largest Military Budgets in 2022

The United States accounts for almost 40% of global military expenditures, with its 2022 spend coming to $877 billion.

Here are the top 40 largest military budgets in the world for 2022 in U.S. dollars:

RankCountryMilitary Budget (Billions)% of World
Military Spend
1🇺🇸 U.S.$876.939.0%
2🇨🇳 China$292.013.0%
3🇷🇺 Russia$86.43.9%
4🇮🇳 India$81.43.6%
5🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia$75.03.3%
6🇬🇧 UK$68.53.1%
7🇩🇪 Germany$55.82.5%
8🇫🇷 France$53.62.4%
9🇰🇷 South Korea$46.42.1%
10🇯🇵 Japan$46.02.1%
11🇺🇦 Ukraine$44.02.0%
12🇮🇹 Italy$33.51.5%
13🇦🇺 Australia$32.31.4%
14🇨🇦 Canada$26.91.2%
15🇮🇱 Israel$23.41.0%
16🇪🇸 Spain$20.30.9%
17🇧🇷 Brazil$20.20.9%
18🇵🇱 Poland$16.60.7%
19🇳🇱 Netherlands$15.60.7%
20🇶🇦 Qatar$15.40.7%
21🇹🇼 Taiwan$12.50.6%
22🇸🇬 Singapore$11.70.5%
23🇹🇷 Türkiye$10.60.5%
24🇵🇰 Pakistan$10.30.5%
25🇨🇴 Colombia$9.90.4%
26🇩🇿 Algeria$9.10.4%
27🇮🇩 Indonesia$9.00.4%
28🇲🇽 Mexico$8.50.4%
29🇳🇴 Norway$8.40.4%
30🇰🇼 Kuwait$8.20.4%
31🇬🇷 Greece$8.10.4%
32🇸🇪 Sweden$7.70.3%
33🇧🇪 Belgium$6.90.3%
34🇮🇷 Iran$6.80.3%
35🇨🇭 Switzerland$6.10.3%
36🇴🇲 Oman$5.80.3%
37🇹🇭 Thailand$5.70.3%
38🇨🇱 Chile$5.60.2%
39🇩🇰 Denmark$5.50.2%
40🇷🇴 Romania$5.20.2%

China, ranked second in absolute terms, accounts for another 13% of world military expenditure at $292 billion.

Russia, India and Saudi Arabia round out the top five biggest military budgets in 2022. Add in the UK to the mix (#6 rank), and these countries all had military expenditures that made up at least 3% of global spend.

Comparatively, the lowest budgets on the top 40 ranged include Romania at $5.2 billion, Denmark at $5.5 billion, and Chile at $5.6 billion. They each account for just 0.2% of the world’s military budgets in 2022, and of course there are many countries with even smaller spends.

Largest Military Budget Increases in 2022

Russia’s position as the third-largest military spender is a recent development, as the country’s military spend had a 9% increase between 2021 and 2022, according to SIPRI estimates.

On the other side of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine was the top 40 military budget with the largest annual increase in 2022, surging nearly six and a half times above its 2021 expenditures.

Country% Change
(2021-2022)
Rank Change
(2021-2022)
🇺🇦 Ukraine640%+25
🇶🇦 Qatar27%+2
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia16%+3
🇧🇪 Belgium13%0
🇳🇱 Netherlands12%0
🇸🇪 Sweden12%-1
🇵🇱 Poland11%0
🇷🇺 Russia9.2%+2
🇩🇰 Denmark8.8%+3
🇪🇸 Spain7.3%-1
🇳🇴 Norway6.2%0
🇮🇳 India6.0%-1
🇯🇵 Japan5.9%-1
🇮🇷 Iran4.6%+5
🇨🇳 China4.2%0
🇬🇧 UK3.7%-2
🇨🇦 Canada3.0%-1
🇸🇬 Singapore2.8%+1
🇩🇪 Germany2.3%0
🇮🇩 Indonesia1.3%0
🇨🇴 Colombia1.1%-1
🇺🇸 U.S.0.7%0
🇫🇷 France0.6%-2
🇬🇷 Greece0.6%-1
🇨🇭 Switzerland0.4%-1
🇹🇼 Taiwan0.4%-1
🇦🇺 Australia0.3%-1
🇵🇰 Pakistan-2.0%-3
🇰🇷 South Korea-2.5%+1
🇷🇴 Romania-2.6%+1
🇴🇲 Oman-3.0%+1
🇩🇿 Algeria-3.7%-1
🇮🇱 Israel-4.2%-1
🇮🇹 Italy-4.5%-1
🇨🇱 Chile-6.2%-3
🇧🇷 Brazil-7.9%-1
🇲🇽 Mexico-9.7%0
🇰🇼 Kuwait-11%-4
🇹🇭 Thailand-11%-5
🇹🇷 Türkiye-26%-6

Ukraine’s dramatic increase represents the highest single-year jump ever recorded by SIPRI, painting a vivid before-and-after picture of a nation engaged in conflict.

Although no other country comes close in matching Ukraine’s surge in defense spending, Qatar saw a substantial increase of 27% over the last year, marking a continuing trend over the last decade of significantly bolstering its military.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia, along with four European nations (Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Poland), have registered year-over-year changes of over 10%.

On the flipside, 13 of the nations with the largest military budgets decreased spend from 2021, including top 15 spenders such as South Korea, Italy, and Israel.

The largest drop was seen by Türkiye, with an estimated 26% reduction in military budget. This drop may be linked to Türkiye’s inflation problem, which saw prices rise 72.3% in 2022—effectively decreasing the purchasing power of their currency in relative terms to other nations.

The Specter of War in Europe

With an ongoing conflict in the region and large financial powerhouses, its no surprise that eight of the top 10 countries with the most significant increases in military spending are located in Europe.

Consequently, European military budgets have reached levels not witnessed since the end of the Cold War.

And amid escalating geopolitical concerns, countries in Asia such as India, Japan, and China have also ramped up their defense spending. This is an indication of simmering global flashpoints such as India and China’s border skirmishes, the longstanding South China Sea territorial conflict, and concerns surrounding Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Data note: SIPRI’s military expenditure data collection began in 1949, thus its records do not account for all expenditure that occurred during both World Wars.

Please see SIPRI’s methodologies page for more details on how they collect their data and create estimates.

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