POST Online Media Lite Edition


China's U.S. image most positive in three decades

Staff Writer |
Americans have been feeling more positively toward China in recent years, and now 50% say they have a favorable opinion of that country - up from 44% in 2016 and 41% in 2012.

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This is the highest for this measure in Gallup trends since a 72% reading in February 1989, months before the Chinese government's violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square sent its U.S. favorable rating tumbling to 34%.

After remaining low for about a decade following the Tiananmen Square incident, Americans' favorable rating of China rose to the low 40s in 2001 - the same year China joined the World Trade Organization -- and remained in the 40s until now.

China's favorable rating was only 38% in 1985 but registered 72% in Gallup's next reading, in February 1989, taken days after President George H.W. Bush returned from a diplomatic visit to China.

Since settling into favorable ratings near 40% in 2001, China's image has generally improved among Democrats and - to a lesser extent - political independents, while it has sagged among Republicans.

Partisan divergence has been especially wide since 2011, when Democrats' favorability toward China first crossed the 50% mark; during the same period, Republicans' has been no higher than 40%.

Although President Donald Trump is known for his tough stance toward China on trade, Republican skepticism about China clearly predates Trump's rise in the Republican Party after he announced his candidacy for president in 2015.

Today, 58% of Democrats and 53% of independents view China favorably, well exceeding the 38% of Republicans with this perspective.

However, the six-percentage-point rise in China's overall favorability in the past year, from 44% to 50%, is explained by increases among both Democrats and Republicans.