January 27, 2014

U.S.-China Relations: Key Data Points from Pew Research

Just a third of the American public has a favorable view of China.


When Americans were asked their opinion about twelve nations in an Oct. 30-Nov. 6 survey, only 33% said they had a favorable view of China. In 2011, 51% of Americans had a very or somewhat favorable view of China, a figure that has declined each year since then. Fewer Republicans (23%) than Democrats (36%) or independents (37%) see China favorably.

Americans now view China as the world’s top economic power, but still say the U.S. is the leading military power.

KDP_China_PowerAbout half (48%) of Americans say China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s leading economic power, but 68% still consider the U.S. to be the top military power, according to our Oct. 30-Nov.6, 2013 survey.

In an October 2012 survey, 49% of the public prioritized getting tougher with China in economic and trade policy, while 42% said it was more important to strengthen relations. Republicans were the strongest advocates of a get-tough policy with 65% favoring that course. In comparison, a majority of Democrats (53%) said the priority should be strengthening relations compared with 39% who wanted to get tougher with China. Independents were divided: 47% favored a get-tough approach while 44% said it was more important to work on building stronger relations.

Americans are more concerned about China’s economic strength than about its military strength, according to our survey conducted in 2012.

About two-thirds of Americans said in the 2012 survey they distrusted China and saw it as a competitor. At the same time, a 2012 survey found that the Chinese public has taken a dimmer view of the U.S.

Index to other Key Data Point fact sheets