The poor image persists even though the Bush administration has been promoting freedom and democracy throughout the world in recent months and has sent hundreds of millions of dollars in relief aid to Indian Ocean nations hit by the devastating Dec. 26 tsunami.
"It's amazing when you see the European public rating the United States so poorly, especially in comparison with China," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Eleven of the 16 countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center — Britain, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan and Indonesia — had a more favorable view of China than the U.S.
India and Poland were more upbeat about the U.S., while Canadians are as likely to see China favorably as they were the United States.
The poll, which was released Thursday, found suspicion and wariness of the United States in many countries where people question the war in Iraq and are growing wary of the U.S.-led war on terror.
"The Iraq war has left an enduring impression on the minds of people around the world in ways that make them very suspicious of U.S. intentions and makes the effort to win hearts and minds far more difficult," said Shibley Telhami, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
The overseas image of the United States slipped sharply after the Iraq invasion in 2003, the Pew polling found, and it has not rebounded in Western European countries like Britain, France, Germany and Spain. The U.S. image remains relatively poor in Muslim countries like Jordan and Pakistan, but has bounced back in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country which benefited from U.S. aid to tsunami victims, as well as in India and Russia.