Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday 1 May 2024


As tensions grow, more Americans see China as an enemy

Two men walk in a hallway as people take cellphone recordings
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, center, visits with his Chinese counterpart at the time, Qin Gang, in Beijing in 2023. (Leah Millis / Associated Press)

Biden recently called for the tripling of tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum to target what he called “unfair trade practices” by China. And on a trip to Beijing last month, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen raised the issue of “overcapacity” in Chinese manufacturing of electric cars and other clean-energy goods.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials in Beijing to discuss long-simmering sources of tension. Blinken raised the need to stem the supply of fentanyl from China to the U.S. and warned China to stop providing tools and technology to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine.

“Russia would struggle to sustain its assault on Ukraine without China’s support,” Blinken said in a news conference Friday. “I made clear that if China does not address this problem, we will.”

Meanwhile, China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, criticized the U.S. for using trade policy and sanctions to contain China’s economic development. Wang also reiterated his government’s concerns about U.S. interference in China’s claim on Taiwan and called on Biden to respect Beijing’s sovereignty over the island democracy.

李易修, also known as History Bro, a Taiwanese political influencer, during a livestream. Taipei, Taiwan December 28th, 2023 Photograph by An Rong Xu for The Los Angeles Times

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The high-level meetings followed the passage of a U.S. bill that allocated $8 billion in funding for Taiwan. The bill, which Biden signed last week, would also force a ban of TikTok in the U.S. if the Chinese-owned company does not sell its short-video app business.

To assess American attitudes toward China, Pew researchers surveyed a representative sample of 3,600 U.S. adults by mail, text and email during the first week of April.

The survey found that 81% of U.S. adults view China unfavorably, a slight decline from 83% last year but still near the highest level in data going back to 2005. Public opinion has changed radically since 2017, when about 47% of respondents held unfavorable views of China and 43% held favorable ones.

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