Most Americans not confident in how China’s Xi will handle world affairs

Most Americans not confident in how China’s Xi will handle world affairs

U.S. President Joe Biden meets Chinese President Xi Jinping November 14, 2022 on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Most U.S. adults in a poll say they have little confidence that Chinese President Xi Jinping “will do the right thing about world politics,” according to the Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday.

Despite this pessimism, more than half of people in the US said the two countries could work together on trade and economic policies, the poll found.

The study, which included more than 3,500 US adults between March 20 and 26, comes at a time when tensions between the US and China are escalating to the point of limited bilateral interaction. Pressuring Beijing is one of the few issues with strong bipartisan support in the US

Meanwhile, Xi has consolidated his power in China and sought to increase China’s global influence.

In March, China brokered the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East. Beijing has so far refused to condemn Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine while calling for peace talks.

It is unclear how aware Pew poll respondents were of such world events and developments.

The study found that 13% of Americans who took the survey said they had never heard of Xi — a percentage that rose to 27% among respondents aged 18 to 29.

However, most respondents were pessimistic: almost half, or 47%, said they had “not at all confidence” in Xi’s good handling of world affairs, while another 30% said they had “not too much confidence”.

About three-quarters of respondents said that China does not consider the interests of countries like the United States and that China meddles in other countries’ affairs, the report said.

More than half of the respondents said China does not contribute to world peace and stability.

This directly contradicts Beijing’s narrative that it contributes to world peace and economic development.

According to World Bank data, China has generated well over 15% of global GDP in recent years. In 2010, China overtook Japan to become the second largest economy in the world, behind only the US

China’s foreign ministry released papers this year highlighting US involvement in “many overseas wars” and claiming that US alliances in the Asia-Pacific region are intended to “undermine peace.”

Economic Cooperation

US-China cooperation on economic issues was one of two areas where Pew poll respondents remained more optimistic.

Just over half said the two countries could cooperate on trade and economic policies, the report said, without asking questions about specific policies.

The only other category where more than half of respondents said both countries could work together was student exchange programs, Pew found.

The number of Chinese students in the US and American students studying in China has fallen sharply during the Covid pandemic. According to a report released last week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a non-partisan policy research organization and Washington, D.C.-based think tank, that was a reflection of an overall decline in bilateral travel that has yet to materially recover must.

The report was co-authored by Scott Kennedy, CSIS Trustee Chairman for Chinese Business and Economics, and Wang Jisi, Founding President of Peking University’s Institute for International Strategic Studies.

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In visits to China over the past 12 months, Kennedy said people he’s met have told him Washington bears full responsibility for the decline in US-China relations and that China is still on the inevitable path to become a great power.

China is widely expected to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy in the coming years.

A ingrained narrative in China, frequently mentioned by Xi, is that the ruling Chinese Communist Party is leading the country “on the right side of history” and out of 19th-century “humiliation” at the hands of Western imperialists.

General pessimism

Respondents to the Pew survey mostly did not see areas for potential US-China cooperation.

More than half of the respondents expressed pessimism in three out of five areas listed in the survey: international conflict resolution, climate protection policy and dealing with the spread of infectious diseases.

“I don’t know what we could possibly work on with them. Certainly not the climate,” the Pew report said, citing an unnamed 25-year-old woman who attended a focus group.

The Biden administration said the US was in competition with China and imposed export bans on critical semiconductor technology to China. It followed the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods and the blacklisting of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

The crashed suspected spy balloon raises tensions between the US and China

The latest Pew poll found that nearly half of US respondents said China is benefiting more from the bilateral trade relationship, and more than 80% said China’s growing technological power is a serious – if not very serious – problem for the US USA

Xi and President Joe Biden met in person in November for the first time since Biden took office. But according to public records, the two leaders have not spoken to each other since the US shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon in American airspace in February.

The balloon incident prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone his trip to Beijing. Sources told CNBC last week that senior Commerce Department officials would visit China to lay the groundwork for a possible trip by Secretary of State Gina Raimondo later this year.

— CNBC’s Kayla Tausche contributed to this report.

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2023-04-12 18:00:01