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On Both Sides of the Pacific, a Grim Outlook Prevails
Updated: July 26, 2022 | By Jason I. McMann, PhD

Against the backdrop of a multiyear trade war, heightened screening of cross-border investments, and persistent tensions over the South China Sea and Taiwan, Morning Consult’s U.S.-China Relations Barometer provides data-driven insights into public perceptions of bilateral relations between the two superpowers, as well as the risks and opportunities that lie ahead for companies and investors. The barometer tracks American and Chinese sentiment on bilateral relations across a variety of domains, including each country’s views of the other, whether they are locked in a cold war, and the likelihood of future military and economic tensions. The barometer is updated quarterly.

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

The outlook: Several of our data series measuring Chinese public sentiment toward the United States suggest that relations have warmed slightly since June. While the share of U.S. adults who view China as unfriendly or an enemy has remained mostly flat, the equivalent share of Chinese adults has decreased 13 percentage points since June. The share of Chinese adults forecasting escalating economic tensions also decreased 7 percentage points month over month. And the share of Chinese adults who think the United States and China are in a cold war has ticked down 4 percentage points since June, nearing a tracking low. Most U.S. data series have meanwhile trended sideways.

How to respond: U.S. and Chinese multinationals have some room for optimism relative to last month due to softening Chinese sentiment toward the United States. Chinese state media’s preoccupation with limiting fallout from fraught domestic economic conditions in recent weeks may have limited its bandwidth for stoking antagonism, partially explaining the above trends. Bilateral relations are largely in wait-and-see mode until the upcoming Biden-Xi summit anticipated for late July or August. Companies would be wise to hold off on making big moves until then.

Data points to watch:

  • The share of Chinese adults who view the United States as an enemy (66%) has hit a tracking low, seesawing relative to last month’s high of 79%.
  • The share of Chinese adults who believe the United States and China are in a cold war (16%) is similarly hovering near a tracking low.

COUNTRY PERCEPTIONS: THE VIEW ACROSS THE PACIFIC

U.S.-China Bilateral Favorability

Respondents in each country were asked if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the other country

Data reflects aggregate shares indicating whether respondents view the specified country somewhat/very favorably or somewhat/very unfavorably.

 

 

Allies or Enemies?

Respondents in the United States and China were asked whether they think the other country is an enemy/unfriendly or an ally/friendly

THE NEW COLD WAR CONTEXT

Cold War 2.0, or Something Less?

Respondents were asked whether the United States and China are in a cold war, or just in competition

Projecting a Winner in a War of Attrition

Respondents were asked who would win if the United States and China entered into a new cold war

MILITARY AND ECONOMIC TENSIONS

Perceived Likelihood of Escalating Military Tensions

Respondents in the United States and China were asked to predict the likelihood of bilateral military tensions increasing over the next 12 months

Perceived Likelihood of Escalating Economic Tensions

Respondents in the United States and China were asked to predict the likelihood of bilateral economic tensions increasing over the next 12 months

READ MORE

METHODOLOGY

The U.S.-China Relations Barometer relies on data collected through Morning Consult’s proprietary survey research capabilities. Interviews are conducted online, and data are weighted to approximate representative samples of U.S. and Chinese adults. The U.S. data is weighted based on age, gender, educational attainment, race and region. The China data is weighted based on age, gender, educational attainment and region.

The United States and China country favorability data series are seven-day moving averages of daily data derived from surveys conducted among roughly 14,300 to 27,000 U.S. adults and 670 to 3,400 Chinese adults, with data reported on the first and 15th of each month. The underlying data series for the United States and China have unweighted margins of error of up to 1 percentage point and up to 4 percentage points, respectively. Morning Consult updated its weights for U.S. adults on April 1, 2022.

All other data series reported in the barometer derive from monthly surveys conducted Feb. 11-July 2, 2022, in the United States and Feb. 11-July 6, 2022, in China, among representative samples of approximately 1,000 adults in each country, with unweighted margins of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

About Morning Consult

Morning Consult is a global decision intelligence company changing how modern leaders make smarter, faster, better decisions. The company pairs its proprietary high-frequency data with applied artificial intelligence to better inform decisions on what people think and how they will act. Learn more at morningconsult.com.

About the author

Jason McMann is Head of Geopolitical Risk Analysis for Morning Consult. He leverages the company’s high-frequency survey intelligence to advise clients on how to integrate geopolitical risk into their decision-making.

Email press@morningconsult.com to speak with a member of the Morning Consult team.