A large majority of Americans blame China for the global spread of the coronavirus as animosity toward the country has soared, according to a new survey.
More than three-quarters of Americans — 78 percent — place a “great deal or fair amount of the blame” on China for the virus’ spread around the world, according to the study published Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
Another 73 percent of respondents said they had “unfavorable” views of the country — a figure that rose 26 percentage points since 2018, the surveyors found.
The survey polled 1,003 voting-age adults over the phone, with a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points, according to Pew.
Americans hold equally chilly views of China’s President Xi Jinping, with 77 percent responding that they either have “not too much confidence” or “no confidence at all” that he would “do the right thing” with regards to world affairs.
Pollsters found Americans also seem poised to support strong actions against China in response to the country’s treatment of Uighur Muslims. It’s been estimated more than 1 million members of the minority ethnic group in the country are being forcibly detained in Chinese concentration camps.
Nearly three-quarters of residents — 73 percent — responded that “the US should try to promote human rights in China, even if it harms economic relations,” according to the poll. Though the poll question did not specifically reference Uighurs.
Americans’ view of China’s standing in the world, as well as the ties between the two countries, were less clear cut.
About 57 percent of responders said they saw China as a “competitor,” down from 66 percent of responders when the question was asked back in 2012. Twenty-six percent of responders said they viewed China as an “enemy” and another 15 percent considered the country to be a “partner.”
Secretary of State Mike PompeoEPA
And 51 percent of Americans surveyed believed the US should build a stronger relationship with China, while 46 percent said the US should “get tougher.”
But more and more Americans are supporting a more adversarial stance, with the number of responders choosing to get tough growing 11 percentage points since last year.
And about half of Americans think the U.S. should hold China responsible for the role it played in the outbreak of the coronavirus — even if it means damaging economic and trade relations.
The poll comes as the administration continues tense back-and-forths with China. The Department of Justice accused Chinese consulates in more than two dozen US cities of aiding undercover Communist Party soldiers who posed as students as part of spy operations.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week delivered a scathing speech against China’s “totalitarian” regime, slamming the Communist Party for oppressing residents, hiding knowledge on the coronavirus’ origins and for the detention of Uighurs.
“For too many decades, our leaders have ignored or downplayed the words of brave Chinese dissidents who have warned us about the nature of the regime we’re facing,” Pompeo said last Thursday. “We can’t ignore it any longer.”