China-Russia relationship increasingly worrying Americans - PEW poll

Published on April 28, 2022, PEW researchers compared the poll's findings with a similar one conducted in 2020 and found that negative views of China have grown significantly.

 RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last month.  (photo credit: Sputnik/Kremlin/Reuters)
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last month.
(photo credit: Sputnik/Kremlin/Reuters)

US citizens' attitudes towards China have become increasingly negative in the past two years, a new PEW poll found.

Published on April 28, 2022, researchers compared the poll's findings with a similar one conducted in 2020.

67% Americans believed that China's power and influence were a major threat, up from 62% in 2020; 66% believe that its power and influence are getting stronger; 43% that China is the world's leading economic power, up from 32% in 2020; and 19% saw China as the world's leading military power, up from just 6% in 2020. 

Americans also responded negatively to the relationship between Russia and China, which has not denounced Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24 . Some 62% saw the relationship as a very serious problem for the US and another 30% saw it as somewhat serious.

Interestingly, however, Between January and March 2022 Americans shifted towards labeling China as a competitor as opposed to enemy. In January, 54% saw China as a competitor and 35% as an enemy, while the numbers dropped to 62% and 25% in March. The opposite is true for Russia, the survey found. In January, 49% of Americans saw Russia a competitor and 41% as an enemy, while in March the numbers leaped to 70% enemy and 24% competitor.   

 Iran, China and Russia hold naval drills in the northern Indian Ocean (credit: REUTERS) Iran, China and Russia hold naval drills in the northern Indian Ocean (credit: REUTERS)

Other questions found that 47% of Americans saw China's involvement in politics in the US as very serious problem for the US; 43% saw China's military power in the same light; 42% China's policies on human rights; 35% economic competition with China; 35% saw tensions between China and Taiwan as a very serious problem for the US; and 26% said the same about mainland China's policies in Hong Kong.

The survey found large differences between Republicans and Democrats on many issues related to China, with Republicans usually holding a more negative view.

For example, 42% of American who defined themselves as either Republican or leaning to Republican see China as an enemy of the US, versus just 12% of Democrats/leaning towards Democrats. 75% Republicans/lean Republicans believed that the economic relations between the US and China are bad, while 51% of Democrats/lean Democrats thought the same.

67% of the former believed that on economic issues it is more important to get tougher than build a strong relationship with China, while 43% of the latter said the same.  

Another interesting split was found between age groups, as older Americans tended to view China in a negative light than youngsters.

For example, 74% of Americans aged 65 and over saw the China-Russia as being a very serious problem for the US, while 49% of 18 to 29-year-olds agreed. In addition, 58% aged 65+ said that China's involvement in US politics was a serious problem while 38% aged 18-29 said the same.

On human rights, 68% of Americans believed that the US should try to promote human rights in China even if it harms economic relations, while 28% believed that the Us should prioritize strengthening economic relations even if it means not addressing human rights issues.

The one issue that garnered a wide consensus was whether the US was the top military power in the world. 70% of Americans believed so, with 19% naming China as the world's leading military power and 9% naming Russia.