Almost Three Quarters of Germans Have Lower Opinion of U.S. Over Pandemic, Fewer Want Closer Ties With Washington: Poll

Almost three quarters of Germans say their opinion of the United States has fallen over the coronavirus pandemic, a new poll has found.

The survey results published by the non-profit Körber Stiftung on Monday revealed that 73 percent of Germans reported their opinion of the U.S. deteriorating as result of the coronavirus pandemic.

By comparison, 5 percent had an improved opinion of America while 17 percent reported their view was unchanged.

Only 36 percent of respondents said their opinion of China had slumped since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, while a further 32 percent told pollsters their estimation of the country was unchanged.

Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
President Donald Trump attends a meeting with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel during the G20 Osaka Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

"There are a number of plausible factors underlying the deteriorating image of the US in Germany," the Körber Stiftung report's editor Joshua Webb told Newsweek. "To be certain, Germans' opinions of the U.S. tend to reflect their attitudes towards the incumbent president, and President Trump remains deeply unpopular across the country."

He added: "While disagreements between Washington and Berlin predate the Trump Administration, transatlantic relations have lacked a public, positive agenda over the past four years.

"Many Germans read negative headlines from the White House on an almost daily basis, but the majority of the country remains opposed [to] a "my country first" approach."

In spite of German opinion of America deteriorating at a greater rate than public perception of China, a majority of those polled still said they believed the pandemic could have been mitigated if Beijing had been more transparent.

A combined 71 percent of polled Germans told Körber Stiftung that they either "fully" or "somewhat" agreed that more Chinese transparency could have curbed the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, when asked whether it was more important for Germany to have closer relations with the U.S. or China, the country was found to be split.

Thirty-six percent told pollsters it was more important for Germany to have closer ties with China, while 37 percent prioritized better relations with the U.S.

When the same poll was conducted in September last year, half of Germans said close relations with America were more important, while 24 percent opted for better relations with the Chinese government.

Kantar Public pollsters conducted their latest survey on German foreign policy attitudes between April 3 and April 9. More than 1,000 Germans were interviewed for the Körber Stiftung report poll.

The data on shifting German attitudes toward the U.S. and China came as a war of words raged on between the two superpowers over the origins of the novel coronavirus.

President Donald Trump threatened to permanently freeze payments to the World Health Organization on Monday, labeling the international body a "puppet of China" that allowed the pandemic to become "out of control."

The commander-in-chief has also talked of cutting off relations with China entirely as its officials are accused of attempting to cover up the COVID-19 outbreak in its early stages.

Beijing has repeatedly sought to deflect blame for the global spread of the disease, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian today accusing Trump of trying to smear the country.

At the time of writing, the Johns Hopkins University tracker puts the confirmed number of COVID-19 infections worldwide at more than 4.8 million.