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Tags: gallup | americans | china | enemy | covid

Gallup Poll: More Americans See China as Main US Enemy After COVID

chinese flag flies on flagpole

By    |   Tuesday, 16 March 2021 09:28 AM

Nearly half of Americans now believe China is the United States' greatest enemy, compared to a year ago, when they were equally likely to say either China or Russia posed the bigger threat, and the shift coincides with the origins and growth of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Gallup Poll

The national poll of a random sample of 1,021 adults, conducted in February and released Tuesday, shows 45% of Americans say China is the greater enemy. That figure is double the percentage of people who said in 2020 that China is the bigger enemy. 

By the numbers, Americans' perceptions of the nation's greatest enemy were: 

  • China: 45% in 2021; 22% in 2020.
  • Russia: 26% in 2021; 23% in 2020. 
  • North Korea/Korea: 9% in 2021; 12% in 2020.
  • Iran: 4% in 2021; 19% in 2020. 
  • Iraq: 2% in 2021; 7% in 2020. 
  • The United States and Afghanistan: 1% in both 2021 and 2020.
  • Mexico: 1% in 2021; 0% in 2020.

Americans' favorable views of China also fell for a second-straight year, with the figure now at a historic low of 20%. 

The numbers of people who feared Iran as the greatest threat dipped sharply, as did mentions of North Korea and Iraq. But perceptions of Russia as the greatest enemy, even though changing little from a year ago, are down from 32% in 2019, when it was ranked as the highest threat. 

Meanwhile, the 9% of people who now see North Korea as the greatest enemy of the country is down several points in just a few years from 2018, when 51% named North Korea as the nation's major enemy.  

China has not ranked at the top of the list since 2014. Russia topped the list in 2020, 2019, and 2014, and North Korea was at the top in 2018 and 2016. 

Before then, Iran was called the greatest enemy in the years 2006-2008, 2011, and 2012, and Iraq was on top in 2001 and 2005. 

North Korea does hold the overall high record of 51% but the focus has shifted to China, its key benefactor. 

There was also a partisan divide among those who perceived China or Russia as the top enemy:

  • China: 76% of Republicans; 43% of Independents; 22% of Democrats.
  • Russia: 47% of Democrats, 24% of Independents; 6% of Republicans. 

But even while most Americans see China as the nation's top enemy, half also think the Communist nation is the world's leading power economically, up from 2020 and potentially because of the slams to the U.S. economy because of COVID. 

China, however, still remains the world's second-largest economy behind the United States, Gallup notes. 

Americans have fluctuated between considering China or the United States as the lead power since 2000. Last year, the 50% of Americans who believed their country was the top economic power was the highest in two decades. 

Fewer selected the European Union (5%), Japan (4%), Russia (2%), or India (1%) as the top economic power. Only Japan was chosen by 10% or more since 2000. 

Americans were also divided on who they think will be the world's leading power in 20 years, with 40% picking the United States and 46% choosing China, but no more than 4% picking the European Union, Japan, India, or Russia. 

Further, a new high of 63% said they think China's economic power is a critical threat over the next 10 years, with 30% saying the threat is important, but not critical. 

These numbers were divided politically, with 81% of Republicans, 59% of Independents, and 56% of Democrats seeing China's rising economic power as a threat, but in 2019, 54% of Republicans, 47% of Independents, and 37% of Democrats said they see the threat. 

The poll carried a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, at the 95% confidence level. 

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Nearly half of Americans now believe China is the United States' greatest enemy, compared to a year ago, when they were equally likely to say either China or Russia posed the bigger threat, and the shift coincides with the origins...
gallup, americans, china, enemy, covid
Tuesday, 16 March 2021 09:28 AM
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