Americans view China ‘mostly unfavorably’: poll
A new Gallup poll shows that more than 50 percent of Americans see China as “mostly unfavorable,” attitudes that are nearly unchanged from those in early 2013, despite China’s announcements of economic and social reforms at the end of last year.
Gallup’s February World Affairs poll also shows that 43 percent saw China very or mostly favorably, and that 53 percent saw China very or mostly unfavorably, which reflected little change in perspective compared to 2013 results, where 52 percent saw China unfavorably and 43 percent saw China favorably.
The poll was conducted with a random sample of 1,023 adults aged 18 and older, living in all 50 states. Interviews were conducted over landline and cellular telephones, the numbers of which were selected randomly, according to Gallup.
The majority of Americans (52 percent) also believe that China is the world’s leading economic power, and less than one-third (31 percent) think that US is the leading economic power.
“Attitudes on this question have not changed since 2011, but longer term, belief that China is the world’s leading economic power has skyrocketed since 2000,” wrote Gallup’s Andrew Dugan on the company’s website.
“Then, just one in 10 Americans named China as the superior economic power; now, a reliable majority does. This is likely attributable to China’s impressive economic performance over the last 13 years — its economy often growing by double digits over this time span — and the United States’ often underwhelming, crisis-ridden economy,” Dugan added.
China’s growing military power is seen as a “thread to the vital interests of the US,” according to Gallup, and though 55 percent of Americans surveyed last June consider China as an ally or a friend, they now consider China’s “growing influence through more of an economic lens.” In a question with a list of possible threats to the US, 52 percent of Americans said that China’s economic power as a critical threat compared to the 46 percent who said that China’s military power is a threat.
China being seen as a major economic power doesn’t help Americans’ perceptions of China’s political objectives, said Yukon Huang, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“Any time some country becomes more important in any way, it raises questions about whether or not Americans are losing their competitiveness and since the economic situation continues to be uncertain in the United States, this just increases the anxiety in America,” Huang told China Daily.
Huang said that China’s economic rise is “not well understood,” and a switch from a negative perception to a positive one requires that Americans view China’s rise as having potential benefits to the US.
“China grows and trades and invests more overseas than America and the American public stands to benefit, but there isn’t much reporting on that aspect,” he said. “On the economic aspects — which could potentially soften or increase the appeal of China’s increasing economic situation — the positive aspects are understated, and the negative aspects are overstated.”