Chinese authorities took control of the former US consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Monday after it was closed amid growing tensions between global powers. China has ordered the mission to be closed in retaliation for a U.S. order to close the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas. (July 27) Domestic AP
WASHINGTON – New research shows that nearly three-quarters of Americans view China negatively, a record high when new cases of coronavirus occur in the U.S. and the Trump administration accelerates its attacks on Beijing.
The poll, published Thursday by the non-partisan Pew Research Center, found a sharp increase in the number of Americans who view China unfavorably. In 2018, only 47% of Americans held an unfavorable view of China, but that number has jumped 26% since then – to 73%, the highest level in the 15 years that Pew measured Americans’ attitudes toward Beijing.
“Since March, China’s negative views have increased by 7 points, and there is a widespread feeling that China handled the initial outbreak and subsequent spread of COVID-19 badly,” found the Pew survey.
In comparison, about 50% of Americans have a favorable view of the European Union, and that has remained relatively stable over the years, said Kat Devlin, associate researcher at Pew.
With China, “we are really seeing a rupture” in US attitudes, she said.
Devlin said China’s position among the American public started to drop significantly in 2018 “when trade rhetoric and trade war were kind of taking off between” the two countries and the downward spiral continued with the coronavirus pandemic. But she could not say definitively that these two developments caused the decline.
The survey found that 64% of Americans said China did a poor job of dealing with the pandemic, compared with 31% who said Beijing did a good job.
The new coronavirus started in Wuhan, and Chinese authorities tried to silence the doctors there who gave the first alarms about the deadly outbreak. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that the Chinese government’s initial treatment of the COVID-19 outbreak was responsible for the global spread of the pandemic.
In January and February, President Donald Trump repeatedly praised Xi Jinping’s treatment with the coronavirus, at one point tweeting that the US “very much appreciates (China) efforts and transparency. “
China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States very much appreciates your efforts and transparency. Everything will be fine. In particular, on behalf of the American people, I want to thank President Xi!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
But Trump and his aides now say China is to blame for the pandemic, which critics say is an effort to distract the president’s failure to take the virus seriously and mount an aggressive federal response.
The vote comes when U.S. policy toward China becomes an increasingly controversial issue in the 2020 presidential campaign, with Trump and his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, accusing himself of being moderate with Beijing.
Republicans are more unfavorable to China than Democrats, with 83% of respondents in the Republican Party saying they view China negatively, compared with 68% of Democrats. But both sides came to view China in increasingly negative terms.
Although the pandemic has exacerbated US-China tensions, Washington and Beijing also discussed several other thorny issues, from trade to alleged espionage. Earlier this week, American diplomats were forced to leave the US consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu. The Chinese government has ordered the U.S. mission to close in retaliation for the Trump administration’s decision to close the Chinese consulate in Houston – alleging that diplomats at that facility were involved in espionage and intellectual property theft.
Most Americans – 57% – see China as a competitor in the US, while 16% describe the country as a partner. But Pew’s survey found that 26% of Americans now see China as the enemy of the United States – almost double the percentage that said that in 2012, when Pew asked the last question.
President Donald Trump meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the fringe of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. (Photo: Susan Walsh, AP)
Half of the respondents said the United States should hold China accountable for its role in the coronavirus pandemic, while 38% said that preserving strong economic ties with China should overcome concerns about Beijing’s handling of the virus.
The new research also showed that Americans support a more aggressive US response to human rights abuses in China, another flashpoint in the geopolitical relationship. China recently imposed an extensive crackdown on Hong Kong, designed to crack down on pro-democracy protesters. And the Xi government has also been involved in mass detention, forced sterilization and abortions and another horrible treatment of a predominantly Muslim population in the Chinese region of Xinjiang.
More than 70% of Americans consulted by Pew said that the United States should try to promote human rights in China, even if it undermined bilateral economic relations, while 23% said that the United States should prioritize strong economic relations at the expense of facing Beijing for its human rights abuses. .
Pew conducted the telephone survey of 1,003 American adults from June 16 to July 14.
More about US-China relations:
What the Biden-Trump fight over China means for the 2020 elections
‘Dangerous dynamics’: Coronavirus threatens new ‘Cold War’ between US and China
Chinese officials control US consulate in Chengdu
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