The perceived threat from China and Russia has diminished, with public concern now focusing on non-traditional risks, a recent study has revealed.
What Happened: The Munich Security Index 2024, which surveyed 12,000 individuals across G7 nations, Brazil, India, China, and South Africa, found that traditional security risks are still a concern but have decreased since 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, CNBC reported. The study also highlighted a growing unease about non-traditional risks such as mass migration and radical Islam.
Despite the upcoming Munich Security Conference’s focus on rising geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty, public opinion on medium-term economic and geopolitical risks is largely aligned. Most respondents from Western nations believe that China and other Global South powers will become more influential over the next decade, while Western powers are expected to stagnate or decline.
Although Russia was considered a top threat by G7 countries in the previous year, these concerns have since waned. Only citizens from the U.K. and Japan still view Moscow as a significant risk. China’s perception has also improved in five of the G7 countries, with Canada and Japan being the exceptions.
Non-traditional risks have increased globally, with environmental threats, mass migration due to war or climate change, and organized crime being the primary concerns. The report also highlighted a significant rise in the perceived threat of radical Islam, mainly in Europe and North America, likely due to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“Populist forces have further amplified the sentiment 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,'” the report said.
Why It Matters: The shift in public perception away from traditional security threats to non-traditional risks is significant in the current geopolitical climate. This change could be attributed to a series of recent events, including China’s rapid expansion of its naval capabilities, Russia’s nuclear threats, and the potential economic impact of a conflict with China.
These findings are in line with the predictions of experts who warned of increased geopolitical risks due to events such as Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s war in Ukraine, escalating U.S.-China competition, and Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s aggression against Taiwan.
The report indicated that if former U.S. President Donald Trump were re-elected, it could potentially mark the end of trusted cooperation among democratic states. In fact, on Saturday, the Republican presidential candidate stated that he would urge Russia to attack NATO allies if they failed to meet their spending commitments.
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