BEIJING – People around the globe believe that China will inevitably replace the United States as the world’s leading superpower, but that doesn’t mean they like the prospect, according to a new study on global attitudes.

The survey that the Pew Research Center conducted in 39 countries confirms much of the conventional wisdom in Washington about the shifting balance of power. Mutual tensions are rising, with Americans’ favorable opinions of China dropping from 51 percent two years ago to 37 percent now and a similar drop among Chinese – from 58 percent to 40 percent – with respect to the United States.

China’s economic might is perceived as rising and the United States’ as declining, and although many countries still see the United States as the top economic power, most believe that it is only a matter of time before China supplants it.

Despite the shifting attitudes, however, the United States generally enjoys a better image. On the question of which country they view as a partner, more nations had a majority naming the United States rather than China.

The survey on global attitudes was the largest that Pew has conducted since 2007.

China was widely admired by respondents – especially in Africa and Latin America – for its scientific and technological advances, but Chinese ideas and popular culture were less well-received.