A new Pew Research Center survey of 38,000 people in 39 countries found the widespread belief that China is well on its way.
Overall, a majority or plurality of respondents in only six of the countries surveyed believe the U.S. will remain on top.
"Publics around the world believe the global balance of power is shifting," Pew wrote. "China's economic power is on the rise, and many think it will eventually supplant the United States as the world's dominant superpower."
In both the United States and China, an increasing number of respondents agree with this thesis.
Two out of three Chinese now predict their country will overtake the U.S., an eight percentage point increase since 2008. The number of Americans who agree has jumped 11 percentage points to 47%.
When it comes to pure economics, the survey suggests that some people even think that China is already ahead of the U.S.
By almost any statistical measure, the U.S. economy is still top dog. But the perception that China has already built the world's most powerful economy reflects the tremendous gains that have resulted from sustained 10% GDP growth over the past three decades.
The survey also indicates that countries around the world have divergent views of the U.S. and China.
The U.S. retains a higher overall approval rating, with 63% of people around the world having a favorable view of America. China's rating is marginally lower at 50%.
While the results differ from country to country, the report concludes that "China's increasing power has not led to more positive ratings for the People's Republic."
Pew isn't the only group interested in the implications of China's growing power. The Middle Kingdom's increasing influence has also attracted plenty of predictions in Washington.
The U.S. National Intelligence Council released a report last year that offers a series of prognostications about how the world might change in coming decades.
One of its attention-grabbing assertions: China's economy will surpass that of the U.S. by 2030.
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