• Investors observe stock market movements at an exchange hall on Jan. 6, 2016, in Beijing, China.

Investors observe stock market movements at an exchange hall on Jan. 6, 2016, in Beijing, China. (Photo : Getty Images)

After years of convincing the world that it has overtaken the U.S. as the singular dominant economic superpower, China has lost that distinction to its Western rival, according to a survey of 16 countries by the Pew Research Center.

China has consistently topped surveys in terms of economic process. As recently as 2012, the data showed that most countries polled chose china over the United States, Japan, and the EU, as "the world's leading economic power," the Quartz news website reported on Tuesday citing the survey

Like Us on Facebook

Of eight countries asked this question every year since 2008, French is the only one to still see China as the world's most powerful economy. In contrast, 2013 saw respondents from six of those eight countries more likely to choose China over the U.S. Even Americans picked China over their country that year, the report said.

This year, however, the latest release of the survey had only three of 16 countries picking China over the U.S., France, Canada and Australia.

In another Pew survey announced today, more than half of respondents said that the U.S. is more concerned with China's economic strength than its military strength. 89% of Americans think that the U.S. debt to China is "somewhat serious" or "very serious," while 84% expressed concern over the loss of American jobs to China.

Analysts have long criticized the perception of China as an economic superpower, arguing that Beijing focuses too much on economic and military expansion and overlooks other key sectors such as science, education, governance, and technology.

"To be a true global power a nation must not only possess dominance in the hard skills of industry and military, but in the soft skills of culture and normative values as well," Seth Kaplowitz, a lecturer at San Diego State University's College of Business Administration, wrote in a column for Fortune magazine in 2015.

A year later, the Council on Foreign Relations published an essay describing China's rise to becoming a superpower "wishful, or fearful thinking".

"Economic growth no longer translates as directly into military power as it did in the past, which means that it is now harder than ever for rising powers to rise and established ones to fall. And China--the only country with the raw potential to become a true global peer of the United States--also faces a more daunting challenge than previous rising states because of how far it lags behind technologically," it said.