America’s opinion of China continues to slide

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
July 07, 2020, 4:01 PM UTC

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Americans especially Republicans have become increasingly likely to view China as an enemy of the United States. 

According to the most recent Economist / YouGov survey, about two thirds of Americans see China as unfriendly (33%) or an enemy (32%), while just three percent see them as an ally and 14 percent as friendly. 

Ongoing data also shows China has fallen further out of favor with Americans, but especially among Republicans, of whom a quarter (25%) said China was friendly or an ally in January as phase one of a trade agreement was signed. At that time, 27 percent of Democrats and 18 percent of Independents viewed China as a friend or ally. 

However much has changed since then. Tensions have risen significantly between the two economic superpowers and President Donald Trump has ratcheted up tough-on-China rhetoric. The Oval Office is mulling executive orders, targeting Chinese manufacturing and immigration as Trump continues to place blame on China for the coronavirus outbreak: “China has caused great damage to the United States and the rest of the World!” read a July 6 tweet from Trump.

Older Americans are especially likely to be suspicious of China: Only five percent of those age 65 and over say China is friendly or an ally, compared to 24 percent of those under 30, 23 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 44 and 16 percent of those aged 45 to 64. 

As of the end of June, about one in five (21%) of Democrats, 14 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Republicans see China as friendly or an ally, marking a notable decrease since the end of 2019. 

YouGov asked Americans if they feel threatened by China as a superpower: nearly half (48%) said no, and roughly two in five (38%) said yes. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The most recent Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample. of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between June 28 – 30, 2020.  The approximate margin of error is 3.3 percentage points for the overall sample. Samples are weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. All past polling data, including dates, sample sizes and margins or error can be found here.

Image: Getty