The U.S.-China relationship has been on shaky ground for some time now. Trade issues drove up the heat while the COVID-19 outbreak has pushed the ties between both nations to new lows. According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Americans have never disliked China as much as they do now.
Almost 73 percent of the respondents admitted that they now have an unfavorable view toward China. This is a huge jump in negative sentiment, since only 26 percent of Americans saw China unfavorably in 2018. Just from March alone, negative sentiment toward China has risen by 7 points. The majority of Americans also believe that China is culpable for mishandling the COVID-19 outbreak and spreading it around the world. About 64 percent of the survey participants criticized China for doing a bad job when it came to managing the COVID-19 outbreak.
Nearly 77 percent of Americans do not believe that Chinese President Xi Jinping is capable of doing the right thing in world affairs. This is 27 percentage points higher than last year. “Around seven-in-ten (68 percent) say current economic ties between the superpowers are in bad shape — up 15 percentage points since May 2019, a time in the trade war when tariffs were ramping up. Around one-in-four (26 percent) also describe China as an enemy of the United States — almost double the share who said this when the question was last asked in 2012. Another 57 percent say China is a competitor of the U.S.,” according to Pew Research.
The majority of Americans feel that China must be held responsible for the viral outbreak. And even though 51 percent of respondents preferred a strong economic relationship with China rather than getting tough on the Asian nation, about 73 percent think that the U.S. should promote human rights in China even if it ends up harming bilateral relations. While most Americans continue to believe that the U.S. is the dominant economy in the world, the percentage of people who support such a view declined by 7 points in the past few months.
Politically, both Democrats and Republicans hold a negative perception of China, with the latter being more likely to have such unfavorable views. An overwhelming 73 percent of Republicans agreed that the Chinese government’s initial mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak is responsible for its global spread. Just 38 percent of Democrats agreed to this statement.
Far more Republicans than Democrats were also of the opinion that the United States must hold China responsible for the outbreak even at the cost of bilateral relations. Recently, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would allow Americans to sue the Chinese government to claim compensation for any family or business damage they have suffered due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
A report by Morning Consult Economic Intelligence reveals that U.S. consumer sentiment remains low despite several months having passed since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Between July 1 and August 1, consumer confidence in 41 of the 50 American states declined. The state of Florida saw the greatest fall in consumer confidence, which isn’t surprising given that the region has been a hotbed for the outbreak.
A survey by the consulting group McKinsey found that people are only spending their money on essential products. Spending on discretionary products like entertainment, high-end apparel, etc., remains well below pre-COVID-19 levels. Online sales of many products grew by 15 percent to 40 percent following the outbreak. Contactless services like food delivery have seen a strong uptick during this period.