Home Markets China and Russia are no longer perceived as the main security threats, according to research

China and Russia are no longer perceived as the main security threats, according to research

by SuperiorInvest

Supporters of the Fridays for Future climate action movement, including one with a sign showing Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Berlin, Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | fake images

China and Russia are seen as less of a threat to Western populations now than they were a year ago, as public concern turns to non-traditional risks such as mass migration and radical Islam, according to new research.

Public perception of traditional physical security risks remains higher now than three years ago, but has fallen since 2022, the year Russia invaded Ukraine, Munich Security Index 2024 survey results showed.

The findings point to a disconnect between public sentiment and political policy when world leaders meet later this week at the Munich Security Conference to discuss what organizers called a “downward trend in global politics. marked by increased geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty.

At the top of the agenda will be the ongoing wars between Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Hamas, as well as NATO expansion and a possible return of Donald Trump to the White House.

However, public opinion was broadly aligned on medium-term economic and geopolitical risks, with most respondents in Western countries believing China and other powers in the Global South would become more powerful in the coming decade, while that Western powers were more likely to do so. stagnate or decline.

In the survey of 12,000 people from the G7 countries plus Brazil, India, China and South Africa, few Western respondents believed their country would be safer and richer within 10 years. By contrast, most people in emerging economies thought they would be better off financially and politically.

Risks from Russia and China go down

While Russia was a top threat to G7 countries last year, most of those perceived risks have since faded, according to the study conducted from October to November 2023.

Only citizens of the United Kingdom and Japan still consider Moscow a major risk this year, while Germany and Italy saw a significant decline in concerns. Added to this were waning concerns about the risks of nuclear conflict and disruptions to energy supplies.

China was also viewed more favorably this year than last by five of the G7 countries, with Canada and Japan being exceptions. However, it is worth noting that Chinese respondents considered all countries except Russia and Belarus to be more threatening now than before. It was also the only country to mention the United States as a threat.

However, perceptions of non-traditional risks increased in all countries, with people around the world expressing concern about environmental threats, risks of mass migration as a result of war or climate change, and organized crime. Environmental issues are among the top three concerns in every country except the US.

The perceived threat of radical Islam also showed a marked increase, although the report's authors noted that the sentiment was mainly concentrated in Europe and North America, and was likely a consequence of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Meanwhile, cybersecurity issues were ranked as one of the top risks in China and the United States, as both countries tighten their restrictions on each other in the race for technological dominance.

The index was accompanied by a report titled “Lose-Lose?”, which noted the continued shift away from global cooperation toward transactional and protectionist policies.

“As more and more states define their success in relation to others, a vicious cycle of thinking of relative gains, prosperity losses, and rising geopolitical tensions threatens to develop. The resulting lose-lose dynamic is already playing out in many fields. political and affecting several regions,” the report says.

He added that this year's super-election cycle could further exacerbate the risks of “democratic backsliding, growing social polarization and growing right-wing populism,” further displacing international cooperation.

“Populist forces have further amplified the feeling that some actors are gaining at the expense of others, as an extreme form of liberalism 'exacerbates who wins and who loses from economic globalization,'” he added.

The report suggested that Trump's re-election as US president could potentially “mean the end of reliable cooperation between democratic states.” In fact, on Saturday the Republican presidential candidate said he would “encourage” Russia to attack NATO allies if they did not meet their spending commitments.

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