Many Americans See 'Chinese Century'

New survey found that 46% of Americans believed their country will play a smaller role in the 21st century than in the 20th.

Around half of Americans believe the United States will play a smaller role in global affairs in coming decades, with many predicting a "Chinese century," a poll said on Feb. 25.

The Washington Post-ABC News survey comes at a time of uncertainty in relations between the United States and China, which has increasingly flexed its muscle on political and trade issues. The survey found that 46% of Americans believed their country will play a smaller role in the 21st century than in the 20th. Thirty-two percent predicted a larger U.S. role, with the rest saying it would stay the same.

When asked only about economic clout, 53% expected a smaller U.S. role this century.

Forty-three percent believed the 21st century would be more of a "Chinese century," while 38% thought it would be another "American century."

Many Americans were alarmed by the trend. Thirty-nine percent said it would be bad for the United States to play a smaller global role; 19% said it was a good thing and 40% said it was neither good nor bad.

The poll said the findings mirrored U.S. concerns about Japan two decades ago.

China has also bought more than $750 billion in the ballooning U.S. debt, although it cut back its holdings last year.

Despite concerns in some U.S. circles about its rise, China remains a much poorer nation than the United States. The billion-plus nation's per capita income was $2,940 in 2008, compared with $47,580 for the United States, according to the World Bank.

The poll randomly surveyed 1,004 adults by telephone. The margin of error was five percentage points.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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