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Most Americans positive on China: Poll

2013-06-08 09:43 China Daily     Web Editor: Wang Fan comment

More Americans see China as either an ally or at least friendly toward the United States, according to a Gallup survey released on the eve of a historic presidential summit in California.

A total of 55 percent of Americans surveyed between June 1 and 4 described China as either a US ally (11 percent) or a nation friendly to the US (44 percent). On the negative side, 40 percent of respondents saw China as either unfriendly (26 percent) or an enemy (14 percent).

Polling firm Gallup Inc has asked the same question in annual surveys since 2000 to gauge Americans' view of a country that increasingly competes with the United States economically and is taking a more prominent role in global affairs.

This year's poll continues a generally positive trend in public attitudes toward China, apart from a sharply negative turn in 2001 after a Chinese fighter jet collided with a US Navy surveillance plane over the South China Sea. The US plane made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, but the central government in Beijing detained the American crew for 12 days before releasing them.

As Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama begin an informal two-day summit on Friday, their countries face an unprecedented level of economic interdependence, but also high-stakes tensions. Disputes over alleged cyberhacking, unfair trade practices and the nuclear ambitions of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have strained diplomatic ties.

Respondents in the survey released on Thursday were slightly more negative on China than in Gallup's annual World Affairs poll in February. In that poll, people were asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of various countries, including China. A total of 43 expressed a favorable view (35 percent "mostly favorable" plus 8 percent "very favorable"), while 52 percent regarded China negatively (35 percent "mostly unfavorable" plus 17 percent "very unfavorable").

According to the latest Gallup survey, younger Americans and people who identify themselves as Democrats are much more likely to see China as a US ally than are older Americans and self-identified Republicans.

Jerome Cohen, a law professor at New York University and a leading Western scholar on China's legal system, said earlier that it is good to see most Americans are in favor of friendly ties with China, considering that both nations have no formal alliance.

"China is certainly not an enemy of the United States, and the US is not an enemy of China. But there are some people in both nations who think that the two countries are enemies or will become enemies. They are a minority. It is for the rest of us to prove that they are wrong," he said.

Cohen feels that China's economic progress is a good thing. "We benefited from China's economic development. But we are a country that is increasingly divided. I think that's a dangerous situation. We have to educate our people more," he says.

Although age differences in public attitudes toward China have been consistent in recent years of the survey, Gallup said, Democrats' more-positive views on China aren't necessarily the norm. Some polls over the past 13 years have found no meaningful differences between the two major US political parties.

The United Kingdom and Canada ranked highest among those surveyed, with at least 60 percent identifying those countries as US allies and most of the rest describing them as friendly but not allies. Americans also see Israel, Japan, Mexico and India more positively than China, with between 25 percent and 46 percent describing each of these countries as "allies".

Compared to other countries mentioned in the June 1-4 poll, China was in a middle group, along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Russia. About half of respondents viewed those countries positively, relatively few saw them as US allies and relatively few view them as enemies.

Iran and the DPRK were most frequently cited in the survey as enemies of the US, with most other respondents calling those countries unfriendly.

Gallup surveyed a random sample of 1,529 adults, age 18 or older, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, in interviews conducted by landline or cellular phones. The survey's margin of error is 3 percentage points.

President Xi Jinping's America Tour

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