June 5, 2013

Americans and Chinese grow more wary of each other

6-4-2013 4-37-25 PMAs U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping prepare for their first summit on Friday, tensions between the publics of these two superpowers are on the rise.

American attitudes toward China have turned sharply negative over the last two years. According to new Pew Research Center poll findings not yet released in a report, 52% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of China, while just 37% express a favorable view. In 2011, the balance of opinion was just the opposite – 51% held a favorable opinion, while just 36% gave China an unfavorable rating.

Americans are especially concerned about the economic threat from China. A 2012 Pew Research Center poll found majorities of Americans said it was a very serious problem to have the loss of U.S. jobs to China; the large U.S. debt held by China; and the U.S. trade deficit with China (the poll was conducted in collaboration with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and other partners – see here for more information).

6-4-2013 4-37-36 PMFor their part, the Chinese increasingly see the U.S. in a negative light as well. In spring 2010, a few months after a visit to China by President Obama, 58% of Chinese expressed a favorable opinion of the U.S. Today, more than half of Chinese hold an unfavorable view (53% have an unfavorable view v. 40% favorable view).

Still, aspects of American soft power remain popular. In 2012, 73% of the Chinese public said they admire the U.S. for its scientific and technological achievements. And 52% of those surveyed in this one-party state said they like American ideas about democracy.

Interestingly, in the 2013 poll, young people in both countries express more positive views of the other. Half of Chinese under age 30 give the U.S. a favorable rating, while just 41% of 30-49 year-olds and 27% of those 50 and older hold this view. Similarly, a 57%-majority of Americans under 30 express a favorable opinion of China, compared with 35% of 30-49 year-olds and 27% of people 50 and older.

Here are more detailed results and survey methodology.

Topics: U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism, China

  1. Photo of Richard Wike

    is director of global attitudes research at Pew Research Center.


  1. Danielle Hunter Watson4 years ago

    I believe that the younger generations may provide the portals necessary for countries to stop fighting and communicating on new levels. They are not buying the “enemy” concept, esecially with everyone chatting on the internet.
    Since we have become a Global Village….the old paradigm of having the need for “enemies” is really getting old. There is a better way…many ways of keeping our Planet alive and well and having evreyone find their potentials, and share in the responsibility of creating a world that actually works. Do we really need all the old rhetoric or is it possible that we can actually evolve – finally. As humanity discovers the controlling aspects of all goverments and gets tired of the same old movie, same destruction, same soap operas, same endings…. they will use their courage in the most creative and conscious ways.
    China is a mirror of our own county in many ways…now powerful in its consumerism, yet many are simple people who need simple basic freeedoms..Just like in the US. Humans are incredible when given the opportunity to do what each one does best. Time for rewrite…

  2. Andy D.4 years ago

    I believe Americans don’t like China due to several reasons, such as cyber attacks and economic threat (as what the reports says)
    Chinese views of America has turned bad in last 2 years because of America’s military strategy, role in East and South China Sea disputes, and some bias against China.
    Americans and Chinese have totally different views about these issues.
    Americans sees China as a growing threat, and Chinese think America is suppressing and discrediting her.
    Part of this problem is caused by media’s propagandas. The cyber attack issue isn’t news, but some people just want to bring it out and exaggerate the facts, and it’s hard to tell the purpose of it. What we know is these bad news are giving a hard time to both White House and Beijing.
    Let’s hope there is more trust between two nations. Peace.