WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Americans’ trust of China has decreased in recent years, and a vast majority of Americans believe that China is a dishonest competitor.

A 2012 Pew Research Center survey found that nearly two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) rated overall relations between the U.S. and China as good compared with 29 percent who said they were bad. But that masked more negative sentiments about Chinese intentions and growing concerns about a range of economic issues.

About two-thirds (66 percent) regard China as a competitor (compared with 16 percent who call it a partner and 15 percent who say it is an enemy) and that sense of competition revolves around the economic.

Americans who were asked how much the U.S. could trust China showed that 68 percent answered “not too much” or “not at all.”

This is compared with 26 percent who say China can be trusted a great deal or a fair amount. Republicans and independents hold that view strongly (74 percent and 73 percent respectively). While Democratic sentiment on the question is less pronounced, it is still strong, at 61 percent.

The top concern of Americans — cited by 78 percent — is the large amount of American debt held by China. About seven-in-ten (71 percent) say the loss of U.S. jobs to China is a very serious problem for the U.S. and 61 percent say the same about the trade deficit with China. Non-economic issues such as cyber-attacks from China, its military power or human rights policies are cited by 50 percent or less of those surveyed.

There has been a shift in the public’s priorities when it comes to economic and trade policy toward China.

In March 2011, Americans saw building stronger relations with China as more important than getting tougher with China by a 53 percent to 40 percent margin — the public now says getting tougher is the priority by 49 percent to 42 percent.


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