More Americans Consider China an Enemy, Pew Research Says

(Bloomberg) -- Americans are increasingly viewing China as an enemy and most think that limiting Beijing’s power and influence should be a top foreign policy priority for the US, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

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Some 42% of respondents labeled China as an enemy of the US — the largest share since the center started posing this question in 2021, and an increase of four percentage points from last year.

Another 50% of Americans described China as a competitor, down slightly from a year earlier. Only 6% say it’s a partner to the US, which remained unchanged.

The findings come as Washington and Beijing have continued to spar over issues including trade, overcapacity and the South China Sea even as relations have broadly stabilized. The US presidential election this year is set to bring fresh turbulence: In recent weeks, President Joe Biden called China “xenophobic,” vowed to triple tariffs on some Chinese metal exports, and signed legislation that could lead to a nationwide ban on the social media app TikTok.

“Americans have overwhelmingly negative opinions of China, a nation they see as becoming increasingly influential,” the Pew researchers wrote in the report. “This image of China is accompanied by concern about its relationship with its neighbors and widespread distrust in its president.”

Read more: China Braces for Worst as It Becomes Punching Bag in US Election

The survey of more than 3,600 US adults, which was conducted in early April and published Thursday, also found that 81% had an unfavorable view of China — down two percentage point from a year earlier. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

Other findings:

  • A large majority of Americans (82%) think China has at least a fair amount of influence on US economic conditions. Among those, most think the influence is negative.

  • Many Americans agree that China’s influence in the world has been getting stronger in recent years (71%). In 2022, that number was 66%

  • About half surveyed say limiting China should be a top foreign policy goal for the US

  • Republicans assign greater priority than Democrats to limiting China, but the gap between the two groups is shrinking

  • Some 61% of Americans say they are at least somewhat concerned about territorial disputes between China and its neighboring countries, including 20% who say they are very concerned

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