US popular hostility toward China grows over trade, jobs

03 October 2011 19:43  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--A large majority of Americans see China as a long-term threat to the US, a key survey said on Monday, and the sharp increase in American hostility to Beijing comes as Congress and the White House renew their focus on Chinese trade policy.

The Rasmussen Reports polling company said that 62% of American adults regard China as a long-term threat to the US, 12 percentage points higher than the survey result in February 2010.

The threat is seen primarily as economic, not military, according to Rasmussen.

“Seventy percent think China is a bigger threat economically than militarily,” the report said.  “Only 15% see it more as a military threat, while another 15% are not sure.”

However, a growing number of Americans now see China as an outright “enemy”.

“Twenty-seven percent view the communist nation as an enemy, up from 16% in April and the most negative assessment in three years of surveying on this question,” said Rasmussen.  “Only 9% of Americans now consider China a US ally.”

The increasing US popular suspicion of and even hostility toward China comes as Congress is considering legislation that would allow American companies to seek import duties on Chinese goods if Beijing is determined to be manipulating its currency to the detriment of US exporters.

That legislation was expected to get overwhelming bipartisan approval in Congress this week.

The White House also appears to be increasing its focus on Beijing’s trade policies and practices and whether China is living up to its open-trade obligations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

On Wednesday this week the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) was scheduled to hold a public hearing on China’s compliance with WTO requirements.

The USTR is part of President Barack Obama’s executive office, and the trade representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk, reports directly to Obama and is seen to represent closely the president’s views on trade.

The hostile poll results, new anti-China legislation in Congress and the USTR open-forum review of Beijing’s trade practices come as the White House continues to struggle with a persistently high US unemployment rate of 9.1%, with some 14m Americans out of work.

Many in Congress and among US companies and workers contend that China's weak protections for intellectual property rights undermine US technology, and with its low labour costs and its artificially low currency value, China is seen as “stealing” American jobs.

That sentiment was said to be reflected in recent US complaints before the WTO over tyres and livestock trade issues.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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