WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As President Barack Obama begins his trip to Asia, including stops in India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea for the G-20 summit, Gallup surveys find the U.S. is relatively well-positioned in many parts of the region. U.S. leadership garners more approval than regional powers China and India in more than half of the 20 Asian countries and areas Gallup polled over the past year.
Obama's trip provides a chance for him to increase the visibility of U.S. leadership in the region, where many residents in the countries on his itinerary who were surveyed this year do not have an opinion. For example, approval in India -- the president's first stop -- is among the lowest in the region, at 18%, but more than 7 in 10 adults (72%) say they don't know whether they approve or disapprove. But even in Japan and South Korea, where majorities approve of U.S. leadership, roughly one-quarter do not offer an opinion.
Although they have an edge over the United States in terms of proximity, visibility in the region is also an issue for the leadership of China and even more so for India. A median of one-third of Asians surveyed say they don't know whether they approve or disapprove of the leadership of China and nearly half -- a median of 47% -- do not offer an opinion about India's leadership.
Adults who do express an opinion about China's leadership are more likely to approve than disapprove in 13 of the 20 Asian countries surveyed. Adults in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Pakistan are more likely to approve of China's leadership than the leaderships of the U.S. or India. Region wide, Pakistanis are among the least likely to approve of the leaderships of India and the United States.
Adults in 11 of 20 countries, including India, are more likely to approve of India's leadership than disapprove. Adults in nearby Afghanistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are more likely to approve of India's leadership than Chinese or U.S. leadership.
U.S. leadership has an approval advantage in Asia over the leaderships of China and India -- a positive sign for the U.S. as it jockeys for influence with these two economic giants. The president's trip may potentially increase the visibility of U.S. leadership in the region and create more positive sentiment among the many Asians who are still undecided.
For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact SocialandEconomicAnalysis@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 6,000 adults in India, 1,050 adults in Indonesia, 1,000 adults Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, aged 15 and older, conducted between April and August 2010. Surveys in Thailand were conducted in October 2009. Results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Taiwan and 750 adults Japan and Hong Kong, aged 15 and older, conducted between April and August 2010.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error in 2010 ranged from a low of ±1.7 percentage points in India to a high of ±4.5 percentage points in Hong Kong.