US public views of China plummet: Pew

This file picture taken on November 6, 2018 shows a Chinese and US flag at a booth during the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai. The US public's view of China has plummeted amid a surge in strategic and trade tensions in recent years, the Pew Research Center reported on Monday. -AFP

WASHINGTON - The US public's view of China has plummeted amid a surge in strategic and trade tensions in recent years, the Pew Research Center reported Tuesday.

The survey group said that 60 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of China, the most in the 14 years since the survey began and up from 47 percent a year ago.

But more Americans saw China as a military threat than an economic threat, despite the showdown over trade launched by President Donald Trump after he took office in 2017.

A majority of those polled -- 53 percent -- thought that economic relations with China were under strain, but half saw China's growing economy as good for the United States, while 41 percent saw it a bad thing.

Despite the rise of the Chinese economy, more Americans generally saw the United States as the world's most powerful economy, Pew said.

By comparison, 81 percent believe China's military growth, which has led to its strategic projection far into the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Middle East, is a bad thing.

China tied with Russia as the country seen as the biggest threat to the United States, while North Korea ran a distant third.

Republicans tended to have more negative views of China and more concern about its military might than Democrats.

The US public's view of China was much better when Pew launched its survey in 2005. At that time only 35 percent had an unfavorable view of the Asian superpower.

Favorable views took a downturn in 2012 and since then a majority has viewed China negatively.

"American opinion of China has fluctuated somewhat over time, with positive views outnumbering negative ones during President Barack Obama's first term in office, but negative views mostly predominating since," Pew said.

"Still, unfavorable opinion has never been higher than it is now." -AFP