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BEIJING (AP) – New polling from the Pew Research Center shows strong negative attitudes among Americans toward China, with almost nine out of 10 adults seeing the country as hostile or a danger to U.S. interests.
Negative feelings have increased over human rights, economic friction, China’s authoritarian Communist Party political system and perceptions that China wishes to supplant the U.S. as the world’s sole superpower, according to the survey results released Thursday.
Respondents specifically cited Chinese actions in Hong Kong, where Beijing has been accused of demolishing freedom of speech and opposition politics, and in Xinjiang, where it has imposed a police state and detained more than 1 million members of the Uyghur and other Muslim minority groups.
China’s growing military power, technological prowess and alleged cyberattacks on U.S. targets were also cited as concerns. It said 64 percent of respondents described economic relations between the countries as “somewhat or very bad.”
Pew said 89 percent of Americans “consider China a competitor or enemy, rather than a partner.” A total of 48 percent responded that limiting China’s power and influence is a top priority, up from just 32 percent who felt that way in 2018.
Opinions in the Pew survey were drawn from a random online sampling of 2,596 U.S. adults conducted from February 1 to February 7. The margin of error was given as 2.7 percentage points.
On the issue of handling the COVID-19 pandemic, survey respondents gave the U.S. and China roughly equal marks, with 43 percent saying China had done a good job and 42 percent saying the same about the U.S. However, 58 percent said the U.S. had done a bad job of handling the outbreak, while just 54 percent said China had done a bad job.
Pew said few Americans “put much stock” in Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Only 15% have confidence in Xi to do the right thing regarding world affairs, whereas 82% do not- including 43% who have no confidence in him at all,” Pew said in a summary of its findings.
Chinese officials routinely attribute negative perceptions about China to inherent prejudice, ignorance or political self-interest.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Wednesday said, “We hope that the U.S. will look at China and China-U.S. relations objectively and rationally, adopt a rational and pragmatic policy toward China, move in the same direction as the Chinese side, do something to enhance mutual trust and cooperation with China, and bring the bilateral relations back to the track of healthy and stable development,” Mr. Wang said at a daily briefing.