China and Russia were no longer seen as major security threats, research found
Supporters of the Fridays for Future climate action movement, including one with a sign depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Berlin, Germany.
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China and Russia are seen as less of a threat to Western populations now than a year ago, as public concern shifts to non-traditional threats such as mass migration and radical Islam, new research has found.
Public perception of traditional hard security threats is still higher than three years ago but has fallen since 2022, the year Russia invaded Ukraine, survey results from the Munich Security Index 2024 showed.
The findings point to a disconnect between public sentiment and political policy as world leaders meet later this week at the Munich Security Conference to discuss what the organization as a “downward shift in world politics, marked by an increase in geopolitical tension 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 Donald Trump’s possible return to the White House.
Public opinion was largely concerned with medium-term economic and geopolitical risks, however, with the majority of respondents in Western countries believing that China and other powers would grow from South more powerful in the next ten years while Western powers were more likely. stop or decline.
In a poll of 12,000 people across the G7 countries as well as Brazil, India, China and South Africa, many Western respondents did not think their country would be more secure and richer after 10 years. In contrast, most of those in emerging economies believed they would be better off financially and politically.
There is a risk that Russia, China will go down
While Russia was rated as the top threat to G7 countries last year, most of those threats have since declined, according to a survey conducted from October to November 2023.
Only citizens from the UK and Japan still consider Moscow to be a major threat this year, while Germany and Italy recorded a significant reduction in concerns. Among these were waning concerns about the dangers of nuclear conflict and disruptions to energy supplies.
China was also seen better this year than last year by five of the G7 countries, with Canada and Japan being the exceptions. In particular, however, Chinese respondents saw all countries other than Russia and Belarus as more dangerous now than before. It was also the only country that the US identified as a threat.
Perceptions of non-traditional threats increased across all countries, however, with people around the world expressing concern about environmental threats, the dangers of mass migration due to war or climate change, and organized crime. Environmental issues were ranked as the top three concerns in every country except the US
There was also a significant increase in the perceived threat from radical Islam, although the report’s authors noted that sentiment was mostly in Europe and North America, and that it may be It was there as a result of the Israel-Hamas war.
At the same time, cybersecurity issues were considered a major threat in China and the US, as both countries pit their barriers against each other in the race for technological dominance.
The index was accompanied by a report called “Lose-Lose?,” which highlighted the continuing shift away from global cooperation and toward active, protectionist policies.
“As more and more states define their success relative to others, a vicious cycle of relative gains thinking, wealth loss, and ever-increasing geopolitical tensions threatens to perpetuate them. “, said the report.
She said this year’s election cycle could expose the dangers of “democratic backsliding, growing social polarization, and the rise of right-wing populism,” making for greater international cooperation.
“Populist forces have promoted the perception that some actors are gaining at the expense of others, as a true form of liberal ‘exacerbating the winners and losers of economic globalization,'” he said.
The report suggested that Trump’s re-election as US president could “spell the end of reliable cooperation among democratic states.” Indeed, the Republican presidential candidate said on Saturday that he would “encourage” the Russia to attack NATO allies if they do not meet their spending commitments.