The world is in a state of flux. As Asia has risen, the postwar international order is adjusting, the meaning of global leadership is transforming, and new partnerships are emerging. What values do Koreans, Americans, and Europeans share? How do their publics view the policies of governments and relations between countries? Is globalization pitting economic powers against one another, or are the United States, Europe, and East Asia growing closer together?
The German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Asan Institute for Policy Studies have long believed that an understanding of public opinion is core to creating good policy. While the Asan Institute has been compiling unparalleled data and analysis on how the Korean public responds to government policy and current affairs, the German Marshall Fund and the Compagnia di San Paolo, with additional support from Fundacao Luso-Americana, the BBVA Foundation, the Communitas Foundation, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and the Open Society Foundations, have been tracking opinion over the last 11 year in their annual Transatlantic Trends survey, the pre-eminent source of U.S. and European public opinion on a host of transatlantic issues, including common foreign policy challenges, support for NATO, the economy, and the rise of other world powers.
This inaugural International Trends report marks the start of a long-term project that we hope will expand to include other partners in the Asia-Pacific, and that will evolve to show trends in public opinion rather than just comparisons. Already, the survey has shown that South Korea is not popular in Europe and the United States; that both Americans and Koreans think that the EU should exert strong leadership in world affairs; that Europeans and Koreans think the United States is more important to their interests than the countries of Asia; and that large segments of the populations in all three perceive China as both an economic and military threat.
We believe that this survey will become as invaluable a tool for policymakers, the media, think-tanks, and policy-focused academics as the Asan Institute and GMF’s other major polling projects. Over the course of the partnership between the two institutions, we hope to see the findings of this survey foster a debate about how the values, policies, and goals of the countries surveyed can help to create a more collaborative world, and how governments, media, and research institutes can better communicate with the public about where we are going — and why.