Wallace Johnson, a 97-year-old World War II naval veteran from a San Francisco suburb, calls China a “suitable student” of the programs that made the United States economically viable. But he worries that its growing power and ties with Russia will prompt the superpower to turn against the US.
“Allied with Russia, (China) may decide that we are unable to keep up with the demands of proxy war on both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, and may take a stand on Taiwan,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s views mirror the findings of a recent survey by the Pew Research Center of Americans’ views on China, a former Cold War foe.
Nine in 10 US adults call the Sino-Russian relationship “at least a serious problem for the United States”, and 62% say it is a “very serious problem”, the survey found. There is more concern than more concern about China’s relations with China. Its involvement in American politics, its human rights policies, or the tensions between China and Taiwan.
Americans heavily support Ukraine, therefore, “if the Chinese government accommodates (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, it makes the Chinese government look certainly worse in American public opinion,” said Perry Link, Calif. Professor of Comparative Literature and Languages at the University, Riverside.
China has avoided condemning Russia for its war in Ukraine, parting ways with the West with pro-Ukraine sentiment.
“China is seen as a supporter, as a co-conspirator and also as an ally,” said Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington. “It’s a simplistic approach, but it’s a very widely shared approach.”
Experts say that opinion of China in the United States varies by age, occupation, and location.
Residents of politically liberal American shores and young white-collar activists associated with China view the communist country more positively than residents of more ideologically liberal and conservative interior states. Some of those states backed former President Donald Trump in 2016, who was tough on China.
Trump launched a trade dispute with China, curtailed US activity of major Chinese tech firms, and escalated US ties with Chinese political rival Taiwan, a longtime de facto Western ally. Trump’s approach to China has continued, in large part, under Joe Biden’s presidency.
When evaluating China, many Americans consider the 4-year-old Sino-US trade war, allegations of commercial espionage and China’s latest COVID-19 outbreak, Sun said.
Lupe Ayala, a third-year political science student at the University of California, Berkeley, sees similarities between the US and China.
“I know (China is), I would say, very controversial just because they are very strict, but I think, looking at the US right now, we are basically the same, so we can’t really point a finger at them like are ‘worse than we are,’ said Ayala, who was upset by news leaks about the Supreme Court’s decision indicating women’s federal right to abortion could be overturned.
He urged Americans to respect the customs, beliefs and cultural traits that are unique to China.
Some young Americans believe China deserves a “more prominent place” in the world order, said author Dexter Roberts, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Asia Security Initiative. the myth of chinese capitalism, He points to his students at the University of Montana, a liberal school in a relatively conservative state.
“Those students argue that China is “growing relative to the US,” Roberts said.
“Of the students I spoke to, a small number of students didn’t say that (Americans) need to recognize this fact.”
Young Americans often say they are not concerned about the strained, competitive relationship between the US and China, and that they will move to China for the adventure, travel opportunities, and income potential if sent by an employer.
Michael Alexander, a junior who studies molecular and cellular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, said, “I wouldn’t consider myself very politically inclined, especially not in international politics, but I think everything at once Worth a try.”
But the outbreak of COVID-19, which has led to lockdowns in Shanghai, Shenzhen and other Chinese cities over the past two months, is weighing on US sentiment.
“The main issue is that they are essentially trapped inside their apartments,” said Kush David, a computer science and economics double major from the US state of Georgia. “They can’t really go anywhere for food and stuff like that.”