Starkly different visions . . .
Contrary to assumptions that Americans are becoming more insular and isolationist, a new poll from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows that they still support an active U.S. role in the world. However, the nature of that role and the issues that respondents think should be prioritized differ significantly according to party affiliation. Overall, 68 per cent of Americans see benefits to remaining active in world affairs, but Republicans strongly favour a unilateralist, go-it-alone approach, whereas Democrats are more inclined to work within international organizations and U.S. allies, including in Asia.
Implications for China policy . . .
The poll also revealed strikingly different views related to China. Two-thirds of Republicans see China’s emergence as a world power as a possible threat, compared to 47 per cent of Democrats. There is alignment on issues like sanctioning Chinese officials for human rights violations (87% in both parties) and negotiating arms control agreements (79% of Democrats, 74% of Republicans). But on trade and other forms of engagement, they diverge sharply. Three-fourths of Republicans feel the U.S. should increase tariffs on imports from China, and 70 per cent want to significantly reduce trade with China, even if it harms American consumers. In contrast, only 39 per cent of Democrats support raising tariffs, and only 41 per cent want to reduce overall trade with China. There were also wide gaps in support for limiting scientific exchange (66% Republican, 39% Democrat) and limiting the number of Chinese students in the U.S. (65% Republican, 32% Democrat).
The rest of the region . . .
Americans’ views of the rest of Asia show some continuity with long-standing American policy, including a majority that believes the U.S. benefits from alliances in East Asia (59%). That level of support puts much of the public at odds with the views of President Donald Trump. But they are also shifting slightly on other issues. For example, 41 per cent would support American military action to protect Taiwan from a Chinese invasion, an increase but still a minority. And slightly more Americans welcome South Korea’s and India’s involvement in addressing world affairs (32%) than China’s involvement (27%).
- Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Divided we stand
- The New York Times: Joe Biden’s China journey
- The New York Times: Senate Democrats present $350 billion strategy to counter China