According to a new poll, the vast majority of Americans blame China for the global spread of the coronavirus as hostility to the country has increased.
More than three-quarters of Americans – 78 percent – blame China for “a large or fair amount of blame” for spreading the virus worldwide, according to a study published Thursday at the Pew Research Center.
Another 73 percent of respondents said they had “unfavorable” views on the country – a figure that has grown by 26 percentage points since 2018, surveyors said.
The poll surveyed 1,003 adults who voted over the phone with an error of 3.7 percentage points, according to Pew.
Americans have equally cold views on Chinese President Xi Jinping, with 77 percent saying they are either “not too sure”; or “not at all sure” that he will “do the right thing” about world affairs.
American pollsters believe that Americans are also ready to support decisive action against China in response to the treatment of Uighur Muslims in the country. It is estimated that more than 1 million members of the country’s ethnic group are forcibly detained in Chinese concentration camps.
Nearly three-quarters of the population – 73 percent – said that “the United States should try to promote human rights in China, even if it harms economic relations,” according to the poll. Although the survey did not specifically address the Uighurs.
Americans’ views on China’s position in the world, as well as on relations between the two countries were less clear.
About 57 percent of respondents said they saw China as a “competitor” than 66 percent of respondents when the question was asked back in 2012. 26% of respondents said they considered China an “enemy” and another 15% said the country should be a “partner”.
And 51 percent of Americans believe that the United States should build stronger relations with China, while 46 percent said the United States should “strengthen.”
But more and more Americans are supporting a more controversial stance as the number of respondents who choose to go up 11 percentage points from last year.
About half of Americans believe that 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 with China. The Justice Department has accused Chinese consulates in more than two dozen American cities of aiding secret Communist Party soldiers who pretended to be students in espionage operations.
Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a threatening speech against China’s “totalitarian” regime, suppressing the Communist Party for oppressing residents, concealing knowledge about the origins of the coronavirus and detaining Uighurs.
“For too many decades, our leaders have ignored or despised the words of bold Chinese dissidents who have warned us about the nature of the regime we face,” Pompeo said last Thursday. “We can’t ignore that anymore.”