The survey found that most Americans back a stricter approach when it comes to dealing with Beijing, be it by the promotion of human rights in China, taking a tough economic approach or limiting the number of Chinese students in the United States.
Overall, 48% of Americans believe that limiting the power and influence of China should be the top foreign policy priority for the Joe Biden administration. This is a stark rise from 32% in 2018.
In fact, the survey has revealed that anti-China sentiments in the US have been on a constant rise over the last few years, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the “feeling thermometer”, nearly 2/3rd of the Americans gave the country a rating of less than 50 on a scale of 0-100.
Around 67% of Americans have “cold” feelings towards China, which includes 47% who have “very cold” feelings.
A comparison with figures from 2018 shows that the proportion of Americans with “very cold” feelings towards China has almost doubled (from 23% to 47%) in 2021.
In all, only 11% of Americans who were surveyed in 2021 said they have “warm” feelings towards Beijing.
The Pew report said that Americans have several specific concerns when it comes to China such as cyberattacks, human rights issues, loss of jobs to the country and its growing military prowess.
Almost 50% of Americans now feel that China’s human rights policy is a “very serious” problem for the US, a significant rise of 7 percentage points from last year.
The survey said nine in ten Americans say that China does not respect personal freedoms.
Over the last year, cyberattacks from China have also become a prominent threat in America, with nearly 2/3rd of the people viewing them as a serious issue for the US.
Limiting Chinese influence
The Pew survey found that nearly half of Americans believe that limiting China’s growing power and influence should be a top foreign policy priority for the Biden administration.
Only 7% think limiting China’s influence should not be a priority at all.
It further showed that America’s view on China’s influence has also witnessed an observable change in the last three years.
The proportion of Americans who think limiting China’s power and influence should be a top priority is up by 16 percentage points since 2018.
Here too, partisan responses vary significantly.
The survey said that Republicans (63%) are much more likely than Democrats (36%) to say limiting China’s power and influence should be the top priority.
China an enemy for most Republican voters
According to the survey, an overwhelming majority of Americans view China as either a competitor (55%) or an enemy (34%).
Only 9% of respondents said that they view China as a partner of the United States.
However, the partisan responses vary significantly.
Over half of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents said they think of China as an enemy and a mere 4% described the country as a partner.
On the other hand, Democrats or those leaning towards the party are more likely to describe China as a partner or competitor than an enemy (20%).
Can Biden deal with China?
Interestingly, fewer Americans expressed confidence in President Joe Biden’s ability to deal with China compared to other foreign policy issues, the survey found.
While 60% of Americans have confidence in Biden to do the right thing regarding world affairs in general, only 53% say they have confidence in him when it comes to dealing effectively with China.
Compared to other foreign policy issues, Biden got the lowest confidence ratings when it came to China.
The survey further showed how Americans are increasingly skeptical of the Chinese government, with only 15% showing confidence that President Xi Jinping will do the right thing regarding world affairs.
The results come at a time when the US is preparing for its first high-level engagement with China since Biden assumed office.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken will meet top Chinese officials in Alaska next week in a first high-level in-person meeting between the two countries under the Biden administration.