A majority of American adults, including opinion leaders, see Sino-American relations as a “good thing” – whatever that means – but aren’t exactly sure about China itself. The problem involves economic issues, like trade and currency imbalances, with the United States and driving up the price of oil. What Beijing does in Asia seems to be relatively unimportant.
Many Americans view strong U.S.-China relations as positive for the U.S.; however, they perceive barriers and express concerns over a number of issues that will impact this relationship, including China’s growing military, a general lack of trust between the two countries, concerns about human rights, and a growing demand for natural resources. While there are many policy areas where the U.S. and China diverge, there are also shared interests and opportunities for collaboration. Many Americans and U.S. opinion leaders express support for strengthening relations between China and the U.S.
In addition, a bare majority of Americans view China as a military threat to the United States, but are not very concerned about Taiwan and Tibet. Again, what happens in Asia doesn’t seem too important to Americans. And, aside from nukes, how exactly China could threaten the mainland in any demonstrable way is not clear from the survey questions.
In all, Americans haven’t decided what China is, its factory and warehouse, or the new Red threat (albeit a very industrious one many Americans are shy to admit their admiration for). Ironically, from such anxiety Beijing could at least congratualte itself, that Americans at least care about China than Taiwan, Tibet, or most of the rest of the region. All Beijing needs to do now is turn bad to good.