Most Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll look unfavorably toward China: two in three regard it as an unfriendly country or an enemy – and 28 percent call it an enemy. Those opinions aren’t likely to change soon. Most Americans (62%) blame China for the coronavirus pandemic – and many believe COVID-19’s was deliberately created in China.
Only about two in five (39%) believe the coronavirus was definitely or probably a natural mutation. More see it as created in a laboratory. On a different question, a similar low percentage regard the virus as something that spread naturally. In that question, three in 10 Americans (31%) even claim the virus was released on purpose.
Republicans are much more likely that Democrats to think the virus was probably or definitely created in a lab. They are also more than twice as likely as Democrats to call China an enemy. But wanting to blame China for the pandemic crosses party lines. Four in five (79%) of Republicans and half of Democrats say China’s handing of the virus led to the worldwide pandemic.
But what should happen to China? A plurality, though not a majority, would punish China for its actions in the pandemic. Two in five (40%) support punishing China, three in 10 Americans (30%) would not. But the willingness to take actions against China is, like so much else about the pandemic, extremely partisan. Republicans favor taking action by more than three to one, while Democrats oppose punishing China by more than two to one.
Americans have other concerns about China, beyond the coronavirus. They agree that the Chinese actions against protestors in Hong Kong pose a very serious problem, but by more than two to one (49% vs 20%), Americans want the United States to stay out of the protests in Hong Kong. However, a plurality of Americans (44%) who have heard a lot about how the Chinese government is handling Hong Kong say the United States should get involved.
The Economist/YouGov Poll was conducted after China places new limits on Hong Kong’s autonomy, which resulted in more protests there, but before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that Hong Kong could no longer be considered autonomous from China, and Trump said he would end Hong Kong’s special economic status with the United States.
At the moment, not even those who regard the Chinese response to the situation in Hong Kong as a very serious problem favor US involvement there.
Americans are evenly divided on how the president is handling China: 42 percent approve and 44 percent disapprove, with the nation divided on partisan lines.