Friend or foe? This is what China thinks of the United States

A Chinese man adjusts a China flag before a news conference attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 5, 2012. China and the United States were divided on Wednesday over how to end the bloodshed in Syria and defuse tension in the South China Sea and other global troublespots, but stressed hope for steady ties as they navigate political transitions at home. REUTERS/Feng Li/Pool (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR37I4L

Chinese views of the US have changed a lot over the past decade Image: REUTERS/Feng Li/Pool

Emma Luxton
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America's relationship with China? It's complicated. And in the wake of Donald Trump's surprise victory, relations between the two economic superpowers could be about to get even more so.

Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center explored Chinese attitudes towards the US, globalization and China's increasing role in global affairs – with interesting results.

The survey found 75% of respondents believe that China plays a more important role in the world today than it did 10 years ago.

Image: Pew Research Center

Americans, on the other hand, are pessimistic about their country’s global influence. Almost half (46%) believe the US plays a less important role in the world than it did a decade ago. Only around one in five thinks their country has become more important.

The Chinese are also more optimistic about their country’s involvement in the global economy: 60% think this is a good thing, compared with only 44% of Americans.

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Friend or foe?

The Chinese are wary of outsiders, the survey found, with more than three-quarters believing their way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence.

On relations with the US, over half believe the country is trying to prevent China from becoming more powerful.

Image: Pew Research Center

There is also concern that US power and influence poses a major threat to China. At the same time, half have a favourable view of the US, and just over half (52%) have confidence in President Barack Obama.

But, as the chart below shows, Chinese views of the US have swung back and forth a lot over the past decade.

Image: Pew Research Center
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