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China and Russia no longer regarded as top security threats, research finds

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

Shawn Gallup | Getty Images News | getty images

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

Survey results from the Munich Security Index 2024 show that public perception about traditional hard security risks is now higher than three years ago, but has declined since 2022, the year Russia invaded Ukraine .

The findings point to a disconnect between public sentiment and political policy as world leaders meet at the Munich Security Conference this weekend to discuss what organizers are doing. called “A downward trend in world politics, marked by increased geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty.”

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

Public opinion on medium-term economic and geopolitical risks was broadly similar, however, with most respondents in Western countries believing that China and other powers in the Global South will become more powerful in the coming decade , while the Western powers were more likely. To stand still or fall.

In the poll of 12,000 people in Brazil, India, China and South Africa, in addition to the G7 countries, few Western respondents believed their country would be more secure and prosperous in 10 years’ time. In contrast, most people in emerging economies thought they would be better off in financial and political terms.

Russia, China at risk of decline

Last year, Russia was ranked as the top threat to G7 countries, but most of those perceived risks have diminished, according to the study conducted from October to November 2023.

Only citizens of the UK and Japan consider Moscow a top risk this year, while Germany and Italy have reported a significant decline in concerns. This included diminishing concerns about the risks of nuclear conflict and disruption to energy supplies.

China was viewed more favorably this year than last year by five of the G7 countries, excluding Canada and Japan. However, notably, Chinese respondents view all countries except Russia and Belarus as more dangerous now than before. It was also the only country to consider America a threat.

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

A significant increase was also seen in the perceived threat of radical Islam, although the report’s authors said that sentiment was concentrated primarily in Europe and North America, and was likely a result of the Israel–Hamas war.

Meanwhile, cybersecurity issues have been ranked as the top risks in China and the US, as both countries have increased their sanctions against each other in the race to compete. Technological dominance.

With the index “loose-loose?” A report was also included, which pointed to a continued shift away from global cooperation towards transactional, protectionist policies.

“As more and more states define their success relative to others, a vicious cycle of relative-advantage thinking, loss of prosperity, and rising geopolitical tensions threatens to spiral out of control. The resulting lose-lose dynamics are already “It is emerging across multiple policy areas and engulfing different sectors,” the report said.

It said this year’s super election cycle could further increase the risks of “democratic rollbacks, growing social polarization and rising right-wing populism”, which could further deteriorate international cooperation.

It says, “Populist forces have exacerbated the sense that some actors are gaining at the expense of others, as extreme forms of liberalism ‘increases who wins and who loses from economic globalization’ “

The report suggested that Trump’s re-election as US President could potentially “end credible cooperation between democratic states.” Indeed, on Saturday the Republican presidential candidate said he would “encourage” Russia to attack NATO allies if they do not meet their spending commitments.

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