Almost Twice as Many Republicans See China as Enemy of the State Since Coronavirus Outbreak, New Poll Says

China is viewed as an "enemy" of the United States by 42 percent of Republicans, according to a new poll.

The poll, released Friday by The Economist/YouGov, found that 27 percent of all Americans view China as an enemy. Opinions were sharply split along party lines, with only 17 percent of Democrats believing the country is an enemy. A further 40 percent of all Americans agreed that the country is "unfriendly."

The only country that a clear majority of Americans described as an enemy was North Korea, with 56 percent, although nearly half felt the same way about Iran and 31 percent believed Russia is an enemy. The poll has a margin of error of 3.2 percent.

Unfavorable views towards China have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and U.S. cases rapidly multiplied. Republican views towards China have soured considerably since January 20, when the survey found only 23 percent thought the country was an enemy.

China and USA Flags
The number of Americans who view China as an "enemy" has been increasing since the COVID-19 pandemic began. WD Stuart/Getty

Republican distaste for China has been increasing while many party leaders including President Donald Trump have been heavily promoting the notion that the country is responsible for the U.S. becoming the world leader in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Although Trump had previously praised China for their "transparency" during the early stages of the health threat, the president began referring to the virus as "the China virus" not long after the pandemic was declared and it became clear that American cases were rapidly increasing.

A U.S. intelligence warning that the emerging virus could lead to a "cataclysmic event" was reportedly shared with the White House as part of the President's Daily Brief in early January, although Trump has insisted he was not aware of the intelligence.

A theory that the virus originated from lab in Wuhan, China has quickly gained traction among conservatives. Friday's poll showed that almost half of all Americans believe that the virus was either "definitely" or "probably" created in a lab. More than two-thirds of Republicans believed the statement was true, while 29 percent of Democrats agreed.

Although the theory may be popular, scientists say there is no credible evidence that the virus is a lab-created bioweapon. A genetic analysis published by the journal Nature Medicine in March concluded that virus is "not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus." A U.S. intelligence report from around the same time was also said to rule out the possibility it was lab-created.

However, it is possible that the virus could have emerged from a lab without having been created in one. Trump said on Thursday that he had seen convincing evidence it was released from a lab, while refusing to offer any further details.

Newsweek reached out to the GOP for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.