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November 18, 2019

How Do Americans View The United States’ Relationship With China?

Last week the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission issued its annual report to Congress outlining steps lawmakers should take to improve the United States’ relationship with China and to address some of the challenges within that relationship. The commission’s specific mandate is “to monitor, investigate, and report to Congress on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.”

While the commission’s report did not address global aluminum steel and aluminum overcapacity, it did analyze how recent trade actions have impacted U.S. citizens’ perception of China The commission explains that, over the last several years, the “U.S. public’s favorability toward China dropped markedly.” It appears some of this decline might be linked to the Trump administration’s Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs.

Specifically:

  • A June 2019 national survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that, after more than a decade during which on average approximately 50 percent of U.S. citizens viewed China as a “rival,” that number jumped to 63 percent and began its rise after the Trump Administration implemented its Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs on China in March 2018.
  • A Gallup poll from February 2019 found 65 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Democrats, and 61 percent of Independents viewed China as a rival. About one year earlier, in March 2018, those numbers were 50 percent, 51 percent, and 49 percent, respectively. Only 41 percent of U.S. citizens held a favorable view of China, down 12 percentage points from the year before.

As a reminder, the Metals Service Center Institute consistently has argued that global overcapacity and other unfair trading practices, particularly by China, have harmed the U.S. and Canadian steel and aluminum markets.

To address this circumvention, MSCI has advised officials in the United States to provide relief for producers up and down the supply chain and to consider consequences of any new trade policy, including: the economic impact of global overcapacity on the entire domestic metals supply chain; transition times and implementation rules to any new policy; availability of domestic metals to meet U.S. national security needs, as well as general industrial and consumer demand; and trade flows under current free trade agreements, including NAFTA.