Americans’ opinion of China hits new lows

Americans’ negative views toward China have reached a “new historic high” amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report published by the Pew Research Center on Thursday.
“Around three-quarters (73%) of Americans have an unfavorable view of China today – the most negative reading in the 15 years that Pew Research Center has been measuring these views,” wrote the authors of the report, Laura Silver, Kat Devlin and Christine Huang.
“The percentage who say they have a very unfavorable view of China is also at a record high of 42%, having nearly doubled since the spring of 2019, when 23% said the same.”
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Pew’s survey is the latest piece of evidence in an impossible-to-miss trend: distrust of China, including its senior leadership, is rampant in the United States right now.
According to Pew’s survey, 64% of Americans say China has done a “bad job” dealing with Covid-19. And 78% say the Chinese government deserves the blame for letting the coronavirus spread from the city of Wuhan to the entire world.
The survey found 77% of Americans had “little or no confidence” in Chinese leader Xi Jinping to “do the right thing in world affairs.” That number has grown 27 points since last year, according to Pew.
The survey also found that most Americans now support taking stronger action related to China’s human rights violations.
“Around three-quarters (73%) say the US should try to promote human rights in China, even if it harms bilateral economic relations,” the report said.
The survey, which surveyed 1,003 US adults between June 16 and July 14, found that negative views of China were high across all political parties, across all education levels, and all age groups (including more than half of 18-29 year olds).
Yun Sun, the East Asia program co-director at The Stimson Center, a Washington-based think tank, said that the survey results were “not surprising” since recent events have attracted more attention to China among Americans.
Recent conflicts include the tit-for-tat shuttering of consulates in Houston and Chengdu, accusations of human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang region, and the still-growing coronavirus death toll.
Sun added that the national sentiment is likely to be mutual.
“I think that correspondingly, you will also see a very negative view of the United States in Chinese public opinion polls these days too,” she said.
The Pew report also comes as US President Donald Trump continues to blame China for unleashing the highly infectious coronavirus on the US.
Trump has lately taken to calling the virus the “China plague,” and continues to vehemently reject any suggestions that he might bear some responsibility for the pandemic’s wild spread in the US, where the death toll passed 150,000 on Wednesday. Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, tested positive for the virus on Monday.
Some lawmakers in Congress have also sought to amend federal law to allow US states and private citizens to sue China for damages related to the coronavirus.
The attorneys general of Missouri and Mississippi have both initiated lawsuits, though it is unclear if they will be permitted to move forward because of sovereign immunity issues.
“For the public health crisis, you can link that to China, and say that China should be responsible for Covid-19,” said Sun. “But I think the weakness of that argument is, should China also be responsible for the US failure to counter Covid-19 after, say, March, or after April?”
“I think you can say that the Chinese hid information at the beginning, they poorly managed the crisis last December and in January, but when we compare the US performance in battling Covid with the rest of the world, I think the failure or ineffectiveness of our policy is quite evident, and that’s not China’s fault.”
Even as many Americans blame China for the virus’s origins and deeply distrust China’s ability to tell the truth, they also remain highly skeptical of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic. About six out of every 10 disapprove o…

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