More people in the United States have favorable views of China, according to the latest surveys by Pew Research Center and Gallup.
The Pew survey released on Tuesday finds that 44 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of China, up from 37 percent a year ago. It described the growth in positive ratings for China as partly due to declining concerns about economic threats from China.
“The share of the public that sees the amount of US debt held by Beijing, the loss of jobs to China and the trade deficit with China as very serious problems has dropped significantly in recent years,” the survey says.
Only 44 percent said trade deficit was a very serious problem, compared with 61 percent in 2012.
Most US economists have dismissed bilateral trade deficits as a problem. Rather, they point out that it was a fiscal policy issue for the US. This contrasts to US President Donald Trump’s rhetoric of blaming trade deficits with China, Germany and Mexico for US job losses and economic woes.
A study by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University showed that 85 percent of the job losses are attributed to technological change, largely automation rather than international trade.
Yukon Huang, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former official with the World Bank and US Treasury Department, pointed out that conventional wisdom on many of the bilateral economic issues, such as trade deficits, job losses and exchange rate, is often wrong.
The Pew survey was basically in line with a Gallup poll released in early February, which showed that Americans have been feeling more positively toward China in recent years. It showed that 50 percent of 1,035 respondents interviewed in the US from Feb 1-5, say they have a favorable opinion of China, compared with 44 percent in 2016 and 41 percent in 2012. It was the highest rating in about 28 years.
The latest Pew survey shows that Democrats and young people have more favorable views towards China.
Republicans’ view of China has also improved to 39 percent today compared with 27 percent a year ago when then-presidential candidate Trump and other Republican contenders shouted negative rhetoric about China on the campaign trail.
Republicans generally hold more negative attitudes toward China and express stronger worries about economic challenges in the US-China relationship. This was reflected by 71 percent of Republicans saying job losses to China are a very big problem for the US, compared with only 47 percent of Democrats.
While jobs are the top Republican concern about China, among Democrats it is China’s impact on the global environment. More than six-in-10 Democrats call it a serious problem, compared with only 44 percent of Republicans, according to the Pew survey, conducted among 1,505 respondents in the US from Feb 16 to March 15.
The Pew survey also finds that people in the US tend to be more concerned about China’s economic strength than its military prowess.