American views of China have become increasingly negative, reaching a record low favorability in a new Pew poll released Tuesday.
Two-thirds of Americans surveyed hold an unfavorable opinion of China, while just 26 percent view China favorably, according to the Pew Research Center polling report. The unfavorable views of China represent the highest measure of disapproval since the Pew Research Center began asking the question in 2005.
Pew reportedly conducted its study around the same time coronavirus began to rapidly spread around the U.S. before the U.S. death rate accelerated and states began announcing lockdown orders. They noted that trends of negative views towards China remained fairly constant before and after many major news developments regarding the coronavirus.
“While China’s handling of the virus may have made an impression on some Americans, it does not appear that escalating conditions in the U.S. over the course of March shifted attitudes toward China during that period,” Pew wrote. “Views of China did not significantly change when comparing those surveyed before and after March 12, approximately when the NBA indefinitely postponed the remainder of the season and actor Tom Hanks announced testing positive for COVID-19 on social media.”
The latest numbers do represent a continuing trend of unfavorable views of China by Americans since President Donald Trump assumed office. There has been a nearly 20 point rise in unfavorable views of China since 2017. About 47 percent of Americans viewed China unfavorably in 2017. At the same point in time, 44 percent held generally favorable views of China.
Unfavorable views of China are higher among Republicans than among Democrats. Around 72 percent of Republicans and those who lean Republican view China unfavorably, as opposed to 23 percent still view China in generally favorable terms. By contrast, 62 percent of Democrats view China unfavorably, while 30 percent view them favorably.
Older Americans tended to hold more unfavorable views of China than younger Americans did. 71 percent of those 50 and older held unfavorable views of China. 67 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 49 held unfavorable views, while 53 percent of those between 18 and 29 held unfavorable views.
Across education backgrounds, Americans with college degrees and those without hospital degrees held similar levels of unfavorable views about China. 68 percent of those with college degrees held unfavorable opinions of China, while 64 percent of those with no college degree held unfavorable views.
Other measures of Chinese prestige have also lowered among Americans. 71 percent of Americans said they did not trust China’s leader, Xi Jinping, to do the right thing when it comes to world affairs. Only 22 percent of Americans had trust in Xi to do the right thing, down 15 points since last year.
59 percent of Americans also viewed the U.S. as the dominant economy over China, as opposed to 30 percent who did not hold that view. 83 percent of Americans viewed the U.S. as the leading military power, up 11 percent since 2016, and 91 percent of Americans believed the U.S. should be the world’s leading military power over China.