Recent data from Pew Research shows that most Americans want the United States to get tough with China on economic issues such as the trade deficit, job losses and the amount of U.S. debt held by China. The research separately surveyed experts in government policy, and the results indicated that the experts are far less concerned about China’s power than the general public, and that the news media falls somewhere between the two.
From Pew’s report:
In contrast to the general public, American foreign affairs experts are far less concerned about China’s rising power. With the exception of retired military officers, only about three-in-ten among the experts surveyed consider China’s emergence as a world power to be a major threat. Fewer than four-in-ten experts consider the U.S. trade deficit with China to be a very serious problem, compared with about six-in-ten of the broader public; and even fewer experts express concern about the loss of U.S. jobs to China. Moreover, unlike the general public, experts are far more likely to support building a strong relationship with China than to back being tough with Beijing on economic issues.
The survey also shows that both the American public and the experts see China as a competitor, with the experts’ view being somewhat more supportive of that view. But the general public is more likely to view China as an enemy (15%) than are the experts (3%).
President Obama gets pretty high marks from all the experts, except retired military officers, on his handling of foreign policy. Among the public, 45% say Obama is not being tough enough on China, while 39% say his approach is about right.
Also on the political front, more Republicans than Democrats believe that the U.S. trade deficit is a very serious problem (71% to 54%), that Chinese-held U.S. debt is a very serious problem (87% to 75%) and the job losses to China are a very serious problem (76% to 67%).
All that said, though, 65% of Americans surveyed think that relations between the United States and China are good, while only 29% think they are bad. But only 26% of the U.S. public thinks the country can trust China. Only Saudi Arabia and Pakistan rank lower on the trustworthiness scale, but Iran was not one of the choices.
The full report from Pew Research is available here.