About 47 percent of those surveyed in 39 countries said China will surpass or already has surpassed the U.S. In only six countries did the majority say that China would never surpass the U.S., according to the Pew Center, which published its survey Thursday.
In the United States, opinion was equally divided, with 47 percent saying China would eclipse or already has eclipsed the U.S. and 47 percent saying that would never happen.
But around the world, the growing conviction that China will become the greatest superpower has not improved people's opinion of the Asian giant. Washington continues to enjoy a more positive image in most countries than Beijing, and especially among China's neighbors.
Among the nations surveyed, a median of 63 percent expressed a favorable opinion of the United States, compared with 50 percent for China.
The 2013 Spring Pew Global Attitudes Survey is based on telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The sample size and margin of error vary in each of the 39 countries surveyed, but the margins are between 3 percent and 5 percent.