Most Americans view China unfavourably but respect its economic power, global poll finds

According to a Gallup poll, 52 per cent of Americans see China's economy as a threat to US interests over the next ten years

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 7:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 7:31pm

A recent poll has indicated that the majority of Americans hold an unfavourable view towards China but recognise the country as the world’s leading economic power.

These results come from a February 6-9 poll conducted by the World Affairs department of Gallup, a research-based consulting company. Gallup carried out the poll by interviewing over 1,000 adults living across the United States by phone.

43 per cent of those interviewed said that they perceive China favourably, while 53 per cent said they had an unfavourable opinion of the country.

52 per cent said that they respected and recognised China as the world’s leading economic power, while only 31 per cent said the same of the United States.

Gallup’s poll also found that 52 per cent of Americans were more likely to see China’s economy as a threat to US interests over the next decade, versus 46 per cent who perceived its military as the greater danger.

“[These results] suggest that, for now, US residents see China’s growing influence through more of an economic lens,” wrote Andrew Durgan, an analyst for Gallup. “[In 2011], just one in ten Americans named China as the superior economic power; now, a reliable majority do.”

“This is likely attributable to China’s impressive economic performance over the last 13 years – its economy often growing by double digits over this time span – and the United States’ often underwhelming, crisis-ridden economy.” 

According to Durgan, while many Americans may feel threatened by China’s tremendous economic growth, just as many are likely to view the rise of China as “an opportunity”.

“Opinions of China have softened from lows observed during Tiananmen Squre and other tense moments in Sino-American relations,” Durgan wrote. “And despite their generally unfavourable views of China, more Americans see China as a friend or an ally, rather than an enemy.

“How American public opinion shifts with regard to this rising Asian power will continue to measure which possibility – opportunity or danger – Americans believe is more the reality.”

Gallup has been polling Americans on their opinion of China since 1979 – a time when, notably, 64 per cent of US residents said that they had a favourable view of the country.

These poll results generally saw no major change until June 1989, when news coverage of Tiananmen Square protests caused Americans’ positive opinion of China to fall to 34 per cent.