Majority of Americans Have An Unfavorable Opinion of China, Pew Study Finds

Jeffrey Bonior Researcher/Writer, AAM

During the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, many Americans were concerned about the nuclear threat posed by communist nations like the Soviet Union (along with the emerging People's Republic of China).

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. The Cold War ended with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the United States largely avoided a similar adversarial relationship with China... perhaps until now.

Military might has given way to a more contemporary type of war – economics – and there is growing consensus that China is emerging as the most serious threat to the United States.

A majority of Americans seem to agree with that assessment.

New data released by the Pew Research Center on Tuesday finds that unfavorable opinions of China have reached a 14-year high. Americans have a 60 percent unfavorable opinion of China, an increase of 13 percent since 2018.

While ongoing trade disputes between the U.S. and China dominate the headlines, it is China's military that has Americans most concerned, as a whopping 81 percent of Americans think China’s growing military power is bad for the United States.

More Americans now view China as an ever-increasing threat the way Russia was feared in the 1960s. Approximately 24 percent of Americans named China as the country that poses the greatest threat to the U.S. in the future, which is double the amount of people who said they were most concerned about China in 2007. China is tied with Russian as the country most cited as a threat to the United States.

Interestingly, Americans aren't opposed to China's economic rise, as more Americans say China's growing economy is more good for the U.S. than bad (50 percent to 41 percent). 

But it's worth noting almost impossible to disconnect China's economic efforts from its military. Using a litany of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), China has undercut a major portion of American manufacturing and is buying exclusive real estate from New York to Los Angeles. It's as if China does not want to physically destroy U.S. military dominance, but rather take control of America’s most prolific properties and businesses.

(Case in point: China's ongoing efforts to dominate the global transit market, which we've written about a bit lately.)

Breaking the data down a bit, older Americans tend to have more negative views of China than younger Americans, and older Americans are more likely to be concerned about the impact of both China’s growing military and economic strength. The Pew study reveals that younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to say China is the leading economic power (37 percent) while 27 percent of those ages 50 and older agree.

Republicans and Democrats largely agree on how China’s growing economy and military will affect the U.S., as members of both parties have unfavorable views of China. Republican opinions are somewhat more negative: 70 percent of Republicans and Independents who lean Republican have a negative view of China, compared with 59 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Chinese President Xi Jinping receives negative ratings from the American public. Half of U.S. adults surveyed say they have little or no confidence in the Chinese leader.

Read the full results of the Pew survey, which was conducted from May 13 to June 18.


Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing