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Americans troubled by China ties, economy tops list: poll

[WASHINGTON] Americans are very worried about ties with China, with economic issues atop the list, including US debt held by Beijing, job losses to the Asian giant and the US trade deficit, a poll showed Wednesday.

Half or more of the people questioned for the Pew Research Center survey rated those three areas as very serious problems.

"The American public continues to see a number of issues related to China and its rising power as major concerns. In particular, economic issues loom large," the center said.

The poll was released as President Barack Obama prepares to receive Chinese President Xi Jinping for his first state visit to the United States later this month. The date has not yet been announced.

The number of Americans who view the debt, jobs and deficit challenges as either "somewhat serious" or "very serious" is extremely high, the research center said.

To wit: 89 per cent for the American debt held by China - Pew put this figure at US$1.27 trillion - 89 per cent again for the loss of US jobs to China, and 86 per cent for the American trade deficit with China.

Still, the numbers expressing "very serious" concern are down by as many as 11 points from the last such Pew poll held three years ago.

In the new one, 86 per cent of those asked said cyberattacks from China are a somewhat or very serious concern.

The telephone survey was conducted in April and early May - before it emerged in June that millions of US federal workers were hit by cyberattacks that have been widely blamed on China.

On other non-economic issues, such as China's human rights record, its impact on the global environment and its growing military might, the somewhat or very serious camps also combine to 85, 85 and 82 per cent, the poll found.

The last of eight issues about which people were questioned was tension between China and Taiwan. The breakdown: 21 per cent see it as a serious problem, and 45 as somewhat.

China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

As America gears up for its presidential election next year, Republican supporters fret more over China than Democrats, the Pew survey found.

For instance, 77 per cent of Republicans say the mountain of US debt held by Beijing is a very serious problem, compared to 60 per cent of Democrats.

On six of the eight issues in the poll, Republicans are a lot more worried than Democrats.

One exception is human rights, where there is no significant difference between the two parties. And China's impact on the environment triggers more jitters among Democrats, Pew said.

The survey was conducted from April 13 to May 3 among 1,003 Americans. The margin of error was 3.6 per centage points.