Poll shows more in US favor tougher China stance
Updated: 2012-10-20 01:49
By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
Sinophobic message by presidential candidates resonates among voters
As both President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney continue to bash China in their efforts to score political points with voters in their race to the White House, the latest national survey has revealed a sharp increase in the number of US citizens who want to get tougher on their country's trade policies with China.
The results show 49 percent say it is important to confront China more on economic and trade issues, a 9 percent rise from March 2011, according to the Pew Research Center's report, published Thursday.
Last year, more than half (53 percent) of the US public said they favored building stronger economic ties with China. But now just 42 percent hold the same view.
The national survey by the center was conducted from Oct 4-7 among 1,511 adults, including 1,201 registered voters across the country.
The poll found a clear partisan divide in views over dealing with China.
Independents and Republicans now are much more supportive of tougher attitudes toward China than they were a year and a half ago.
Nearly half of independents (47 percent) said it is more important to get tougher with China on economic issues, up from just 30 percent in March 2011.
The percentage of Republicans favoring a tougher stance has increased by 11 points (from 54 percent to 65 percent) over this period.
But just more than half the Democrats polled (53 percent) said they prioritize building stronger economic ties with China, the same result as last time.
China has become one of the key themes of the US presidential campaign, with both candidates attacking each other's economic records.
China was the focus of 10 campaign ads this year, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group at Kantar Media.
Both Obama and Romney have blamed China for US job losses and a trade deficit, and have also criticized each other for outsourcing jobs to China.
On Tuesday's second presidential TV debate, both grabbed every opportunity to display a tough stance on China, which was mentioned more than 20 times during the 90-minute debate.
Romney reiterated that he would label China a "currency manipulator" on the first day of his presidency if he gets elected, and the country will remain a central topic when the candidates debate their foreign policies in the third and last presidential showdown next Monday, when an entire 15-minute segment is scheduled to be dedicated to "The Rise of China and Tomorrow's World".
The latest poll shows that more US citizens still believe Obama can do a better job on foreign policy. But Romney, who trailed Obama by 15 points on foreign policy issues in September, has closed the gap to only 4 percent, as 47 percent of voters favor Obama and 43 percent Romney.
But in dealing with China's trade policy specifically, Romney holds a nine-point favor rating lead over Obama (49 percent to 40 percent).
Foreign policy experts in both countries have urged US presidential hopefuls to cool harsh campaign rhetoric on China as it will eventually hurt bilateral ties.
The center's September survey found that 66 percent of the general public, and the majority of five expert groups (government, military retirees, business, scholars and media), said they see China as a competitor of the United States.
Far more US citizens are concerned about economic issues than security issues in US-China relations.
And most respondents said they regard the large amount of US debt held by China, the loss of US jobs to China and the US trade deficit with China as very serious problems.
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