Nearly Half of Americans Now View China as Nation's Greatest Enemy: Poll

The share of Americans who describe China as the "greatest enemy" of the United States has more than doubled since last year, increasing to nearly half of U.S. adults, the latest Gallup survey finds.

China is now viewed by 45 percent of Americans as the greatest threat to the U.S., with nearly two-thirds of respondents saying Chinese economic power is a critical threat to the country's well-being. Just one year ago, during the same Gallup survey of U.S. adults, Russia and China were about even in regards to their perceived level of threat. But the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China, and a 2020 presidential campaign that largely focused on who will "get tough on China," has placed China high above all other countries as Americans' greatest global enemy.

Fifty percent of Americans also say China is the world's top economic powerhouse—a figure that also rose sharply from 2020.

Favorable views of China have been falling for three years straight, with several different pollsters citing former President Donald Trump's trade war and reports of massive human rights abuses as a potential driving force. As China has risen to the top of the U.S. foreign enemy list, countries including Iran, Iraq and North Korea have fallen significantly. Russia is still viewed as the greatest foreign enemy of the U.S. by the second-largest percentage of Americans in the survey.

In terms of partisan differences, Democrats are much more likely to view Russia, rather than China, as the top international threat. In October, at the height of the presidential race between Trump and now-President Joe Biden, Pew Research Center polling showed unfavorable views of China had reached "historic highs."

Despite the increasingly sour relationship between the world's two largest economies, several anecdotal surveys have found that the Chinese people themselves still largely hold reverence for Americans and parts of the culture. However, Pew surveys released last July found Chinese citizens are increasingly more supportive of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government. That same poll found 73 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of China, but not necessarily the Chinese people themselves.

A tiny percentage of those surveyed listed "the United States itself" as the greatest threat to its residents. Two percent of Americans said Israel is the country's greatest enemy and one percent placed Saudi Arabia, Syria and Pakistan atop the list.

The third annual national defense survey released last week by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute found Americans are increasingly distrustful of their own military. Confidence in U.S. military decisions fell from 70 percent to 56 percent between 2018 and February 2021. That survey appeared to corroborate this week's Gallup poll, with two-thirds of Americans describing China as an "enemy" of the U.S.

About 20 percent of Americans in the national defense survey said they view Russia as an "ally," while 16 percent labeled it the "greatest threat to America."

Newsweek reached out to Chinese diplomatic officials in Washington on Tuesday morning for reaction.

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Nearly half of Americans now view China as the nation's greatest enemy, according to new Gallup poll. Above, pro-Beijing supporters take part in a rally outside of the Consulate General of the United States on June 26, 2020 in Hong Kong. ANTHONY KWAN / Stringer/Getty Images