China’s Partnership With Russia-62% Americans say it’s a very serious problem

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While a conflict rages in Ukraine, Americans are deeply concerned about China-Russia relations. Around 9-in-10 U.S. adults say it’s at least a somewhat serious problem for the United States, and a 62% majority say it’s a very serious problem — more than any of the other six issues discussed, including China’s participation in American politics, its human rights policy, and tensions between China and Taiwan.

Aside from the China-Russia relationship, there is a notion that China is a global superpower. About two-thirds (66%) of Americans believe China’s global influence has expanded in recent years. More Americans now call China the world’s economic power. Around four in ten (43%) say China is the world’s largest economy, compared to the US. In 2020, 32% of Americans claimed China was the world’s largest economy, while 52% said the US. That’s a double-digit leap from 2014, when Americans thought China was the world’s best economy.

While Americans still see the US as the world’s main military force – 70% think so vs 19% for China and 9% for Russia – the share naming China has more than doubled since 2020.

In addition, the US fears China’s expanding power and influence. Today, two-thirds see China as a big danger, up 5 points since 2020 and 23 points since 2013. Despite the Ukraine war, this is similar to the percentage who see Russia’s power and influence as a major danger to the US (64 percent).

A year ago, negative perceptions of China had risen marginally. Around 80% of people dislike China, with 40% disliking it a lot. This is a 6-point rise from 2021 and the Center’s American Trends Panel began asking this subject in 2020. The latest reading is likewise a record low for unfavorable attitudes since 2005, while the switch from phone polls to online panels makes direct comparisons impossible.

Even as Americans’ dislike for China grows, they increasingly regard it as a competitor rather than an enemy. Currently, 62% perceive China as a competitor, 25% as an opponent, and 10% as a partner. In January, only 54% chose competitor and 35% enemy, nearly identical levels from the previous year. After Russia invaded Ukraine, the proportion of Americans who view Russia as an opponent or competitor shifted in the opposite direction.

89% of Republicans and independents leaning Republican have unfavourable opinions of China, compared to 79% of Democrats and independents leaning Democratic. China’s power and influence in the world are also considerably more likely to be described as a big danger by Republicans than by Democrats. 

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to feel the China-US economic relationship is negative and to prioritize toughening up on China on economic matters. divisiveness, with 49% of Republicans describing China as the world’s largest economic power and 39% of Democrats agreeing. However, Republicans’ opinions on China’s economic supremacy have nearly risen since 2020, while Democrats’ views have stayed stable.

This is one of the primary results of a recent Pew Research Center poll of 3,581 adults from March 21 to 27, 2022. Younger and older Americans have quite different perceptions of China. Age is associated with negative perceptions of China, poor Sino-American relations, and characterizations of China as an enemy. Older Americans perceive practically every issue in the bilateral relationship as a severe problem for the US. When it comes to China-Taiwan relations, the age gap is the biggest While 52% of Americans 65 and older think China-Taiwan relations are a major issue, only 26% of those 18 to 29 agree. A 25-point disparity also exists when Americans consider China-Russia relations.

Americans still fear China’s power and influence.

Americans worry about China’s power and influence: More than half regard China’s power and influence as a big concern, while 30% see it as a minor one. The share of respondents who express serious anxiety about China’s status has risen by 23 percentage points since 2013, but has remained stable since 2020.

The threat posed by China’s power and influence varies by population. Men see the country’s power and influence as a huge threat to the US. China’s power and influence is seen as less of a threat by younger Americans than by older Americans. Those with less education than those with more education are less likely to believe China is a big danger to the US.

A majority of conservative Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe China’s power and influence threaten the US. However, conservative Republicans perceive the issue as a big threat, whereas moderate or liberal Republicans and Democrats of all ideologies do not. The share of Republicans who think China’s dominance is a big threat has risen 8 points since 2020, while Democratic views have remained stable.

A majority of Americans find the China-Russia alliance problematic.

When asked to rate seven aspects of the US-China relationship, more than 70% of Americans say they are serious. A quarter or more consider each of the seven issues very significant.

Americans are particularly concerned about China-“unlimited Russia’s friendship,” as both countries recently put it. 60% feel the relationship is a major issue, 15 points higher than the next highest response. While China voted against Russia being expelled from the UN Human Rights Council in 2014, its state media still calls it a “special military operation.”

About half of Americans are concerned about China’s engagement in American politics, and roughly 40% are concerned about China’s military capabilities and human rights policy. There has been an 8-point drop in concern about China’s human rights policy since 2021. Conversely, Americans are worried about China-Taiwan relations. Compared to 2021, cross-strait conflicts are now a major concern for 35%. Calling President Joe Biden in mid-March, China’s Xi Jinping warned him against mishandling the cross-strait issue.

Mainland China’s policies in Hong Kong are the least concerning, with barely a quarter citing them as a major issue.

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