The world is less confident in US leadership since Trump became president, and is now more confident in China, a new report shows

NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty ImagesUS President Donald Trump (L) and China’s President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017.
  • Confidence in US leadership declined significantly between 2016 and 2017, according to a new report from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
  • The report found people on average now have more confidence in Chinese leadership than in US leadership.
  • Steve Killelea, the founder and executive chairman of IEP, told INSIDER that global confidence in US leadership experienced a “precipitous drop” after Trump’s election.
  • Killelea pointed to the “poor press” Trump has received internationally, while noting that global confidence in the US was much higher under former President Barack Obama.
  • Global confidence in US leadership fell 11.2 percentage points from 2016 to 2017, according to the report.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

People around the world now have more confidence in the leadership of China than the US, according to a new report from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). It is part of a downward trend that began in 2016.

“Confidence in US leadership has fallen more than confidence in Russian, Chinese, and German leadership in the past five years, with people on average now having more confidence in Chinese leadership than the US,” the 2019 Global Peace Index report said.

The overall approval of US leadership has fallen 17 points since 2008, according to the IEP, but the largest drop happened in recent years. Global confidence in US leadership fell 11.2 percentage points from 2016 to 2017, according to the report, which also said approval of US leadership has fallen in almost all regions since 2016.

China is a top rival of the US, with tensions rising to new heights since President Donald Trump took office. The US is currently locked in a trade war with China as the Pentagon warns of its expanding military capabilities and global presence.

China also routinely ranks among the worst human rights abusers in the world, but that has apparently not hurt perceptions of its leadership in certain parts of the globe.

“Over the last four years there has been a rise in the confidence in China,” Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of IEP, told INSIDER. “That’s mainly happened in the more authoritarian states and the less peaceful states … They’re likely to be more closer to China.”

Killelea said the other factor that needs to be taken into account is the “precipitous drop” that occurred in confidence of US leadership in 2016 and 2017 “after the election of President Trump,” pointing to the “poor press” that Trump has received worldwide.

“To put more perspective in it, [former President Barack Obama] was very, very popular internationally and if we went back prior to Obama in the latter years of [former President George W. Bush] the approval levels were … about the same as what they are now,” Killelea said, adding that the lower rate of confidence in US leadership under Bush was linked to issues like the Iraq War, which began in 2003 under his administration.

The 2019 Global Peace Index also showed that the US has become less peaceful over the past year, dropping to 128th out of 163 countries in this year’s index. The decline in peacefulness in the US could be attributed to “increased homicide, violent crime and political instability; ongoing international military engagements; increased military expenditure (% GDP) and armed services personnel rate; and reduced UN peacekeeping funding.”

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Killelea said “the political process in the US is becoming more confrontational,” highlighting the discussions on impeachment currently occurring in Washington, to which he attributed political instability.

With the US polarised on an array of issues, there’s no “middle ground,” and its politics have become more “extreme” with less “compromise,” Killelea said, which has fostered the political volatility.

Meanwhile, the report found that global peacefulness rose overall for the first time in five years, but also said the world remains less peaceful than it was a decade ago. The average level of peacefulness has declined by roughly 4% worldwide since 2008.

Conflict in the Middle East has been “the key driver of the global deterioration in peacefulness,” according to the report, which also found that Afghanistan has replaced Syria as the world’s least peaceful country. The US military is active in four out of five of the countries identified in the report as the least peaceful in the world: Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

The report covers 99.7% of the global population and the index is based on 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators, which are grouped into three larger themes: ongoing conflict, safety and security, and militarization.

“The Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human wellbeing and progress,” the report explains. It ranks the level of peacefulness in 163 independent states and territories. It also measures

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