US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16 2018. REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16 2018. REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE

President Donald Trump has shaken global faith in US leadership, an international survey found, as confidence in him lags behind other major world leaders including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping.

The Pew Research Center found 70% of people surveyed across 25 countries this year said they lacked confidence in Trump, compared with 27% who said they trusted the American president’s handling of international affairs.

The poll of more than 26,000 people found that opinions of Trump continued to fall among some of America’s closest allies and neighbours, with only 9% of French citizens and 6% of Mexicans expressing favourable views of him.

Still, respondents in almost every country said it would be better for the US to remain as the top global power, rather than China, which is seen as a rising power. That included large majorities among China’s neighbours such as Japan (81%) and the Philippines (77%). The only places where pluralities favoured Chinese leadership were Tunisia (64%), Argentina (35%) and Russia (35%).

Overall, about 50%  surveyed continued to hold favourable views of the US.

The results provide the latest illustration of global unease over Trump’s “America First” agenda, in which he has imposed tariffs, dismissed the value of multilateral institutions and withdrawn from international agreements. Trump vowed to “reject the ideology of globalism” last week in a speech to the UN, where some attendees appeared to laugh at his claims to have accomplished more than almost any US administration.

“Large majorities say the US doesn’t take into account the interests of countries like theirs when making foreign policy decisions,” the Pew report said. “And there are signs that American soft power is waning as well, including the fact that, while the US maintains its reputation for respecting individual liberty, fewer believe this than a decade ago.”

Roughly 70%  of respondents said the US pays little or no attention to the needs of other nations, compared with 28% who said Washington takes their interests into account, Pew found.

Confidence in Trump trailed the scores of other world leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron, Xi and Putin.

The survey found anxiety about US ties among friends and foes alike. About 80% of Germans said that relations between the allies had deteriorated over the past year and only 10% of the country’s residents reported favourable views of Trump. Views of both the US and its president fell in Russia, where Trump’s approval plunged to 19% from 53% amid disputes over Syria, economic sanctions and allegations of election-meddling.

One notable exception was Israel. Support for Trump jumped 13%  to 69% there as the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a decision that angered Palestinians. Trump was also well received in South Korea, where confidence in Trump increased to 44% from 17% as he set aside threats of war and opened nuclear talks with North Korea.

The survey was based on telephone and face-to-face interviews and is generally based on national samples, with the margin of error for each country available on the nonprofit research organisation’s website.

Bloomberg