Date: September 23, 2020
By: Emily Feng
Polls show widespread distrust toward China is growing in the U.S. over how China initially handled its coronavirus outbreak and ongoing human rights abuses.
At the same time, Chinese attitudes toward the U.S. are souring — while popular satisfaction with the Chinese state has grown since the central government quickly brought the pandemic under control through sometimes brutal methods.
These recent trends in public sentiment run parallel to a dramatic deterioration in U.S.-China relations, as nationalistic officials in each government play on popular fears and perceptions.
U.S. levels of anxiety about China are at historic highs. The latest Pew Research poll, from July, found 73% of American respondents have negative attitudes toward China — the highest percentage since Pew began collecting such data in 2005, when 35% reported negative attitudes toward China. In the July poll, 78% of respondents said they put "a great deal or fair amount of the blame" for the coronavirus pandemic on how China initially handled the first outbreak.
Negative U.S. opinion extends to Chinese business as well. An August poll of 2,200 American adults led by Morning Consult, a data intelligence firm, found more than half of respondents "saw China as a 'major threat' to America's technology and innovation dominance, making it the country with the highest-perceived threat level of any other listed in the survey." Nearly two-thirds of respondents were "very" or "somewhat concerned" by the prospect of a Chinese company operating social media apps and 77% expressed doubt that a Chinese company would protect data security.
In China, though, the coronavirus pandemic appears to have solidified public approval for the government — even after an early outpouring of public anger. "Surprisingly, [the coronavirus epidemic] actually increased people's satisfaction and support for their government," says Cary Wu, a sociology professor at Canada's York University who studies public opinion. [FULL STORY]