By CNA and agencies
Singapore – An increasing number of Americans see China as an enemy of the United States, according to a survey released on Wednesday (Apr, 12).
The American think-tank Pew Research Centre interviewed 3,576 US adults in late March, to gauge their views on China.
When asked to label China as either a competitor, enemy or partner of their country, four in 10 – 38 percent – said “enemy”. This was up from 25 per cent a year ago and the highest figure since 2021.
Though most of the respondents (52 percent) viewed China as a competitor, this was a dip of 10 percentage points from 2022.
Only 6 percent see China as a partner of the US.
The survey follows a string of run-ins over the past few months involving the two superpowers, among them the threat of Chinese-owned social media app TikTok being banned in the US.
TikTok’s chief executive officer Chew Shou Zi was grilled on March 23 by US lawmakers over concerns of Beijing having access to American user data.
In February, a suspected Chinese spy balloon over US airspace was also shot down by the military, prompting a strong response from Beijing describing Washington as “clearly overreacting and seriously violating international practice”.
Among the Pew survey respondents who viewed China as an enemy of the US, 53 percent were Republicans – an increase of 11 percentage points from 2022. The number of Democrats who shared the same view also rose over the year, from 12 percent to 27 percent.
Older Americans were also more likely than younger ones to call China an enemy, said Pew, noting that about half of respondents aged 65 and above shared this view compared to about a quarter of those under 30 years old.
On the topic of possible US-China cooperation, most Americans (54 percent) surveyed thought both countries could not work together to resolve international conflicts.
More than half (52 percent) also felt the same about the US and China cooperating on climate change and dealing with infectious diseases.
Pew found that Democrats tended “to be much more amenable to working with China on all key issues mentioned than Republicans”.
Respondents were also more open when it came to student exchanges and trade and economic policy, with a respective 65 percent and 52 percent thinking it was possible for the US and China to collaborate on those fronts.
Younger and higher-educated Americans also saw more opportunities to work with China, in keeping with past Pew surveys which found that younger people tended to prioritise multilateralism.
“Negative views continue to be high”
The proportion sharing this sentiment has steadily increased from 35 percent in 2005. That year, more Americans (43 percent) actually viewed China favourably, but this share has since dipped to 14 percent.
A large majority (91 percent) of older Americans aged 65 and above have negative views of China, compared with 75 percent of those aged 18 to 29.
When it came to China’s technological achievements, however, two-thirds of the Americans offered compliments, saying they were either the best or above average in relation to other wealthy countries.
About 51 percent also thought the same of China’s military.
On China’s soft power, only 14 percent rated its entertainment industry – including movies, music and television – as the best or above average.
The American survey respondents were also critical of China’s behaviour on the global stage, said Pew. Around three-quarters or more saw China as not taking the interests of other countries like the US into account, and as interfering in the affairs of other countries.
As many as eight in 10 believed that China does not contribute much to peace and stability around the world.
Top: Flags of US and China are seen in this illustration picture taken on Aug. 2, 2022. File photo: Reuters/Florence Lo and published by CNA
Insert: China accused the United States of “seriously violating international practice” after it shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon on Feb. 5, 2023. Photo: Brian Branch via AP and published by CNA
Front Page: US President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, on November 14, 2022. Photo: AFP/Saul Loeb and published by CNA