While Donald Trump has predicted that his Mar-a-Lago meeting with Xi Jinping tomorrow will be “very difficult,” Americans are actually beginning to soften their stance toward China overall, though they remain skeptical about the Chinese president himself.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 44% of Americans hold a favorable opinion of China, up from just 37% last year and the highest percentage since 2011. At the same, China’s unfavorability has dropped from 55% to 47% over the past year.
That change in attitude appears to be down to economic issues as Americans have magically become much less worried about the large amount of US debt held by China, the loss of US jobs to China, and the US trade deficit to China as their own economy has improved. Still, it’s a somewhat curious finding considering that these issues have been three of Trump’s main China-bashing points over the last year.
In general, older Americans and Republicans tend to hold more negative views of China. For example, 71% of Republicans believe that job losses to China are a very big problem for the US, compared with only 47% of Democrats. On the other side, 63% of Democrats consider China’s impact on the environment to be a serious problem, compared to just 44% of Republicans.
Overall though, Americans are more concerned with China’s economic strength than its military might. 58% of respondents said that the US should use force to back any Asian ally against Beijing if a military conflict breaks out. Last year, a Pew Global survey found that Chinese people view the US as the top threat to China, over the likes of climate change, Russia and ISIS.
Meanwhile, only 31% of Americans have at least some confidence in Xi Jinping, which means that he’s polling only slightly worse than Trump.
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