New Delhi: Around 81 percent of Americans hold an “unfavorable” view of China, while an increasing number of respondents perceive China as an “enemy”, shows a new survey published Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, a US-based think tank. The survey also highlights that nearly half of the participants characterise Beijing as a “competitor”.

The survey of 3,600 US adults conducted between 1 April, 2024, and 7 April, 2024, found that 42 percent of respondents described China as an “enemy” — the highest number since Pew first began asking this question in 2021. Only 6 percent of respondents described Beijing as a “partner” country.

A majority of respondents aged 50 or older described China as an “enemy” (55 percent), while around a quarter of adults (27 percent) below the age of 30 hold the same view.

Similarly, a majority (59 percent) of Republican voters or Republican-leaning independent voters are more likely to describe China as an “enemy” in comparison to those who are Democrat party voters or lean towards the party (28 percent).

Of the Democrat voters or Democrat leaning-independents, 64 percent viewed the country as a “competitor”.

Among the Republican voters, about 69 percent Conservative Republicans described China as an enemy, compared to 38 percent of moderate or liberal Republicans who described the country as such.

Meanwhile, 30 percent of conservative and moderate Democrats and 25 percent of liberal Democrats held similar views. The perception of the domestic economy also plays a factor in how the respondents viewed China.

Those who believe that the economy is doing poorly are more likely (48 percent) to describe China as an enemy in relation to those who believe that the economy is doing well (29 percent), the report found.

This year, around 81 percent of the Americans held an unfavourable opinion of China — the same as last year. In 2020, this number was 66 percent, according to a Pew report released that year in April. Only 16 percent of respondents hold a favourable view towards the second-largest economy in the world.

Americans who hold a four-year college degree are more likely to hold an unfavourable view towards China than those without a college degree, the report found. Around 87 percent of Americans with a four-year college degree hold a negative opinion on China, in comparison to 78 percent of those without a college degree.

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Views on President Xi, limiting China’s influence 

Almost eight in every 10 (79 percent) Americans have little or no confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping “doing the right thing in world affairs”. Only 9 percent of Americans have some or a lot of confidence in president Xi “doing the right thing”, the report found. Around 10 percent have never heard of the global leader.

18 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29, and 12 percent of adults between the ages of 30 and 49 have never heard of president Xi, who has led China since 2012 and recently met with US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. The presidents of both countries held a summit together at Woodside, California in November 2023.

Republicans express less confidence in Xi than Democrats. About 57 percent of Republicans have no confidence in the Chinese president, while 37 percent of Democrats say the same.

Limiting the power and influence of China — among the 22 possible long-term foreign policy goals offered by Pew to the respondents — was the top priority for 49 percent of Americans, and 42 percent believed that this should be given some priority.

Of all the respondents, 61 percent were concerned about China’s territorial disputes with its neighbouring countries. Of these, about 20 percent were “very concerned” about China’s territorial disputes.

The concern was almost equal — 65 percent and 61 percent — among Republican and Democrat respondents, respectively. This is significant because the US government recently announced a $8.1 billion aid package to Taiwan and strengthening the Indo-Pacific — a red-line for Beijing and its one China policy.

(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)

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