US public fears of China diminish: Pew poll

Chinese exports surged more than twice the expected pace in November

Last year, US voters chose a president whose stump speech denounced China for stealing American jobs and rigging trade -- but their own opinion of Beijing is improving.

According to a major Pew Research Center poll published Tuesday, some 44 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of China, up from only 37 percent a year ago.

Most Americans are still concerned about the amount of US debt held by China, about jobs crossing the Pacific and about alleged Chinese cyber attacks, the survey revealed.

But as President Donald Trump prepares to meet his Beijing counterpart Xi Jinping at a Florida summit this week, US views of the world's other great power are warming.

The Pew report suggests that as the US economy continues its own recovery from the post 2008 crash, public concern about its Chinese rival is diminishing.

For example, in 2012, 61 percent of Americans told Pew that the huge US trade deficit with China was a "very serious problem" but only 44 percent do so today.

Over the same period, concern about Chinese cyber attacks has risen, but the percentage of voters worried about losing jobs to China has dropped from 71 to 53 percent.

Trump made complaints about China's alleged currency manipulation and exploitation of lax US trade rules a mainstay of his economically nationalist campaign.

But US officials says that when he meets Xi at his Mar-a-Lago golf resort at week's end, security and the threat posed by North Korea will top the agenda.

According to Pew, just over a third of Americans see China as a military threat and 58 percent would support going to war to defend US allies like Japan or South Korea.

But 52 percent of Americans still see China as most of an economic threat than a military one.

The poll was conducted between February 16 and March 15 by randomly phone polling 1,505 adults. Pew Research estimates its margin of error at three percentage points.