Majority of Americans Support US Tariffs on Chinese Goods, Survey Finds

Majority of Americans Support US Tariffs on Chinese Goods, Survey Finds
Shipping containers, some marked "China Shipping," are stacked at the Port of Los Angeles on Nov. 7, 2019. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Frank Fang

A majority of U.S. registered voters across the political spectrum support tough trade policies against China, according to a new poll by global data firm Morning Consult.

“Voters believe imposing tariffs on China are an effective way to protect U.S. industries and American workers,” reads the poll (pdf), which surveyed 2,005 registered voters from March 29 to March 31.
The poll was conducted for Coalition for a Prosperous America, a trade group and advocacy organization. The results of the poll were announced on April 22.

A total of 73 percent of those surveyed support the U.S. government using trade remedies against China. This belief was held across party lines, including by 76 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Democrats, and 70 percent of independents. Only 10 percent opposed.

When asked whether they support the U.S. government continuing to impose Section 301 tariffs on China, 71 percent of respondents were in favor, with Republicans showing greater support (78 percent) than either Democrats or independents (68 percent each). Only 8 percent opposed.

The Section 301 tariffs are based on the Trump administration’s 2018 investigation that found that China engaged in illegal trade practices, including excessive government subsidies and intellectual property theft, which prompted the Sino–U.S. trade war. The Trump-era tariffs have remained in place, including 25 percent tariffs on about $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The survey also found that 61 percent of voters are more likely to support a political candidate for federal office who supports Washington imposing tariffs on China when there’s a threat to a U.S. industry or U.S. workers. On the other hand, 12 percent said they’re less likely to support such a candidate, and 26 percent didn’t have an opinion.

The poll shows that Americans “want to end the nation’s dependence on factories in China,” Michael Stumo, CEO of Coalition for a Prosperous America, wrote in an opinion article published by the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune on April 22.

“Americans overwhelmingly favor tariffs on China,” Stumo wrote. “And so, Congress should reject efforts to weaken U.S. trade laws or allow for bogus tariff exclusions.

“It’s time to bring back American manufacturing through a robust China bill that stands up for America’s workers and manufacturers.”

The poll also asked respondents a number of different questions, including whether they think China should continue to receive “most favored nation” (MFN) trade status.

In response, 60 percent said they oppose China holding such trade status, including 67 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of independents, and 52 percent of Democrats.

Former President Bill Clinton signed into law the U.S.–China Relations Act of 2000, giving China its MFN designation while paving the way for Beijing’s accession to the World Trade Organization. The designation opened the U.S. market to Chinese products with trade advantages such as reduced tariffs. The trade status is now known as permanent normal trade relations (PNTR).
In March, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced legislation (H.R.7193) to end China’s PNTR status as punishment for its human rights atrocities. If enacted, the measure would require an annual confirmation from the U.S. president that the Chinese regime is making significant progress in improving its human rights record to achieve normal trade status.

A total of 61 percent of respondents support the U.S. government banning Chinese companies from U.S. capital markets that have been sanctioned by Washington or that haven’t complied with U.S. laws. A total of 19 percent oppose the ban.

A candidate running for federal office with such a position on access to U.S. capital markets would be welcomed by the majority of those polled. A total of 65 percent said they’re more likely to support such a candidate, with Republicans (72 percent) more likely than Democrats (64 percent) or independents (60 percent). 
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
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