The Cold War between the United States and China, a reality for two-thirds of Europeans

SURVEY – In an opinion poll carried out by the European Council on International Relations, a majority of those polled think that a cold war is at hand between the United States on the one hand, and China and Russia on the other .

The Cold War is back between the United States and China. This is what 62% of people questioned among twelve countries of the European Union think in a poll by the European Council on International Relations (ECFR) commissioned by Lena, the alliance of the main European dailies of which is part Le Figaro. Almost as many (59%) believe that the Cold War between the United States and Russia is also a reality.

On the other hand, a large part of European citizens (44%) believe that this cold war is also a reality between the European Union and Russia. On the other hand, respondents are much more skeptical about the involvement of their own country in this conflict. This is the great peculiarity of this survey. They are indeed only 25% to think that there is a cold war between their respective country and Russia, a minority, therefore with the exception of Poland (44%), the most worried, and of France ( 35% against 33% who think that there is none, the rest of the respondents not giving an opinion).

The same goes for China. While 31% of those polled think that the cold war between the European Union and China is on the agenda, only 15% on average think that it is the case between their own country and the communist dictatorship.

Brussels, “An American voice”

«People finally recognize the existence of a common European foreign policy», Rejoice the pollsters. “When it comes to dealing with world powers such as China and Russia, the EU as a continental power is best placed to defend the interests of Europeans rather than any member state», Say the pollsters.

At the same time, pollsters recognize that “only the European institutions see the world of tomorrow through the prism of an increasingly fierce competition between democracy and authoritarianism», Unlike European citizens. “A difference of point of view which is not necessarily the symptom of the decline of the Western alliance“, But which alerts to the fact that”Brussels could be accused of being an American voice in Europe rather than a European voice in the world».

The ECFR also shows in this survey that Europeans do not necessarily take a position in this competition between democracy and authoritarianism. 36% of respondents consider that democracies are not necessarily better equipped to face climate change or preserve world peace (46%). 37% of respondents also agree that democracies have not necessarily managed the pandemic better.

“Lack of consensus”

Pollsters say the “free world versus authoritarianism” divide is more fragmented than the Biden administration would like. “While it has been supported by the more hawkish tone adopted by European governments and the idea of ​​’systemic rivalry’ in EU political discourse, the European public has generally not subscribed to it.ECFR states.

The other lesson of this opinion poll is undoubtedly the perception that European citizens have of the external danger that China or Russia can represent. “European opinions seem to have internalized the idea that power is diffuse […] and that it is not concentrated in the hands of the big states“, Note the pollsters, unlike the Cold War that the 20e century has known. Only 13% of Europeans think the United States has the most influence to rule the world and only 6% for China. “They are more likely to believe that it is non-state actors like corporations and the wealthy that are the most influential», Notes the ECFR report.

Ultimately, “lack of consensus” could “handicap European and American leaders“, Note the pollsters, before concluding:”Until now, the European institutions, unlike European citizens, are the only ones to perceive the world of tomorrow as structured by the competition between democracies and authoritarianisms.».

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