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Unfavorable US views of China ‘at new high’: report

Negative views of China are growing among U.S. citizens, with around two-thirds of those surveyed in a recent poll considering China’s rising power and influence in the world a “major threat,” according to a new report released on Thursday.

A survey conducted at the end of March by the Washington-based Pew Research Center shows increasing levels of U.S. concern on a wide range of issues, including China’s economic relationship with the United States, China’s partnership with Russia, and growing tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

Unfavorable opinions of China rose in the U.S. during the last year, with around 8 out of 10, or 82%, of the 3,581 adults surveyed reporting negative views, 40% of whom reported holding views described as “very unfavorable.”

“[This was] a 6-point increase in negative views from 2021 and a new high since the center began asking this question on its American Trends Panel in 2020,” Pew said in its report.

Most Americans still see China as a competitor rather than an enemy, by a 62% to 25% margin. Another 10% call China a U.S. partner, the survey said.

On economic issues, the United States should take “a tougher stance” against China rather than “strengthening the relationship,” more than half of the survey’s respondents said. Only 28% said the U.S. should “prioritize the economic relationship, even if it means ignoring human rights issues,” according to the report.

“These views have changed little in the last year,” Pew said.

Police stand at attention while a Chinese national flag is lowered at sunset at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in a file photo. Photo: AP

Seven out of 10 respondents to the poll said the U.S. remains the world’s strongest military power, with only two-in-10 saying China now holds the lead. “Still, the share who say China is the highest since the question was first asked in 2016 and has more than tripled from 6% who held that view in 2020.

“Americans have [also] become more concerned about the relationship between China and Taiwan,” the report said. “While 28% saw the tensions as very serious in 2021, 35% now consider cross-strait tensions a very grave concern.”

Of special concern to Americans responding to this year’s poll was China’s partnership with Russia, now fighting a war against its neighbor Ukraine.

“About six-in-10 say the relationship poses a very serious problem — 15 percentage points higher than the next highest response,” Pew said, noting that China recently voted against expelling Russia, which has been accused of serious war crimes in Ukraine, from the United Nations Human Rights Council.