Recent data by the Pew Research Center suggests that most voters share the White House’s hawkish approach to China.
Large majorities of the U.S. public, both Democrats and Republicans, align with the Trump administration’s dismal view of China, giving the president a potential appealing drum to bang in an increasingly uphill re-election campaign, according to a new survey.
According to the survey, 73 percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of China, up from 47 percent just two years ago. The main complaints echo President Donald Trump’s: the nature of the two countries’ economic relationship and China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some 64 percent surveyed felt that China had done a bad job handling the pandemic, and 78 percent believe the Chinese government deserves at least some blame for the global spread of the virus.
Trump administration’s aggressive approach could become the new norm, burying nearly 50 years of engagement kicked off with President Richard Nixon’s famous visit to Beijing in 1972.
Fifty-one percent of the surveyed still believe it is more important to build a stronger relationship with China, but 46 percent feel that the tougher approach will be more effective. Despite that discrepancy, the number of those who favor a more aggressive stance has risen sharply since 2019. Contrary to this, only 39 percent Chinese think about building a positive relationship with America, according to Eurasia Group Foundation survey conducted in April.
While Republicans are more likely to hold a negative view of China on most issues than Democrats, U.S.-China economic ties particularly concern Democrats.
Not that a return to the old politics of engagement is necessarily in the cards. “Trump is defining the 2020 electoral agenda in other ways. He has ramped up his isolationist and Sinophobic rhetoric … and accused his rival of being soft on Beijing,” Foreign Policy’s Michael Hirsh wrote this month. “As he is doing with the culture war, Trump is forcing Biden to respond to his lead, rather than merely reacting to his challenger’s attacks.”