A large majority of Americans blame China for the global spread of the coronavirus as hostility to the country has increased, according to a new study.
More than three-quarters of Americans – 78 percent – place a “large or just share of blame” on China for spreading the virus worldwide, according to a study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
73 percent of respondents said they had “unfavorable” views of the country – a figure that has risen by 26 percentage points since 2018, pollsters found.
The survey surveyed 1,003 adults of telephone voting age, with an error of 3.7 percentage points, according to Pew.
Americans have equal views of Chinese President Xi Jinping, with 77 percent responding that they either have “not much faith”; or “not at all” that he would “do the right thing” about world affairs.
Polls found that Americans also appear willing to support strong action against China in response to the country’s treatment of Uighur Muslims. It is estimated that more than 1 million members of the ethnic minority group in the country are being forcibly detained in Chinese concentration camps.
Nearly three-quarters of residents – 73 percent – said “the US should try to promote human rights in China, even if it hurts economic relations,” according to the poll. Although the survey question did not specifically mention Uighurs.
The Americans’ view of China’s situation in the world, as well as the ties between the two countries, were less clear.
About 57 percent of respondents said they saw China as a “competition”, up from 66 percent of respondents when the question was asked again in 2012. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they saw China as an “enemy” and 15 other percent considered the country to be a “partner”.
And 51 percent of Americans surveyed believe the U.S. needs to build a stronger relationship with China, while 46 percent said the U.S. needs to “get tougher.”
But more and more Americans are supporting a bigger opposition stance, with the number of respondents choosing to get 11 percentage points stronger than last year.
And about half of Americans think the United States should hold China responsible for the role it played in the coronavirus outbreak – even if it means damaging economic and trade relations.
The poll comes as the Trump administration continues to strain back with China. The Justice Department accused Chinese consulates in more than two dozen U.S. cities of aiding Communist Party undercover agents posing as students as part of spy operations.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week delivered a shocking speech against China’s “totalitarian” regime, cracking down on the Communist Party for suppressing residents, hiding knowledge about the origins of the coronavirus, and banning Uighurs.
“For many decades, our leaders have ignored or downplayed the words of the brave Chinese dissidents who warned us of the nature of the regime we are facing,” Pompeo said last Thursday. “We can no longer ignore it.”