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US public opinion of China sours: Pew

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

[WASHINGTON] The US public's opinion 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 60 per cent of Americans have an unfavorable view of China, the most in the 14 years since the survey began and up from 47 per cent a year ago.

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

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

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The Trump administration accuses Beijing of foreign exchange manipulation, fuelling fears of a currency war in addition to the trade battles.

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 per cent 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 per cent had an unfavourable opinion of the Asian superpower.

Favourable 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, unfavourable opinion has never been higher than it is now."

AFP