A new poll released by Gallup on Tuesday found that Americans now view China as their country's greatest geopolitical foe.
The poll, conducted between Feb 3 and 18, found that 45 percent of Americans view China as the greatest threat to the United States. The same poll taken exactly one year earlier reported only 22 percent of Americans viewing China in the same manner.
26 percent of Americans view Russia as the country's greatest enemy. While that number represents an increase from 2020, when 23 percent of Americans held that view of Russia, the nation has lost its spot at the top of the list to China.
North Korea was third on the list, with nine percent of Americans believing the hermit kingdom to be their greatest threat, while Iran and Iraq were at four and two percent, respectively.
The last time China ranked as number one on the list was 2014, when 20 percent of Americans held that view of China. Since then, both North Korea and Russia had overtaken China at various points, especially as tensions brewed between North Korea and the United States in the first year of the Trump administration and when the Russian collusion theory dominated the news cycle.
Americans are increasingly viewing China as a major economic threat, with 50 percent of Americans seeing the country as the world's dominant economic force. That number is down from 2013, when 53 percent of Americans described China in the same manner. However, the number of Americans who see the Chinese economic threat as "critical" reached a record high in the latest poll, with 63 percent of Americans describing it in such a manner.
The numbers match a poll conducted by Pew Research in October of last year, which found that negative attitudes towards China had risen sharply across developed nations. 73 percent of Americans held a negative view of China in the poll, while negative perceptions of the country remained even higher in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
The poll comes as tensions continue to rise between the United States and China. Rather than returning to more relaxed Obama-era policy towards the country, the Biden administration has continued the hardline approach pursued by former President Donald Trump.
The Biden administration has made the geopolitical security of Taiwan a priority, a move which has frustrated Beijing's hopes of the Biden administration being more relaxed in their approach to East Asia. Beginning on inauguration day, the Biden administration has made efforts to publicly flaunt its cooperation with Taiwan, including by inviting Taiwanese representatives to the inauguration itself and openly discussing contact with the island nation.
Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, became the home of the Chinese nationalist forces after the communists led by Mao Zedong conquered the mainland in the late 1940s. The communist Chinese government has refused to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation and has frequently taken action to inflict diplomatic punishment on countries which cooperate with the country.
The Biden administration has also continued some of the more protectionist policies of the Trump era, attempting to make the US economy less reliant on Chinese exports.
Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount of China's genocidal actions against the Uyghurs, an ethnic minority which primarily resides in the Chinese administrative division of Xinjiang, but which the Uyghurs and their supporters call East Turkestan. Testimony from survivors have described the mass detention of Uyghurs in concentration camps, where they have been subjected to torture, sexual abuse, communist indoctrination, and forced sterilization. Both the United States and Canada have officially recognized the human rights abuses committed by the Chinese regime as a genocide.
Such tensions and increasing knowledge of human rights abuses, as well as the Chinese origins of the coronavirus pandemic, have fueled the spike in negative perceptions towards China among westerners, particularly in the United States.