Poll: US Should Confront China Over Trade

September 4, 2019 Updated: September 5, 2019

WASHINGTON—More than two-thirds of Americans approve of President Donald Trump’s hardline approach to China, despite believing tariffs will negatively impact U.S. prices and jobs, a new survey found.

A Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey showed that 67 percent of registered voters said Washington should confront China’s unfair trade practices.

The poll also found that 63 percent of respondents believe increased tariffs on Chinese imports would ultimately hurt the United States more than China, with 74 percent saying U.S. consumers are bearing the cost of the tariffs.

“President Trump has the strong support of the American public when it comes to standing up to China,” Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, told The Hill. “They realize that the tariffs may have negative impacts on jobs and prices, but they believe the fight here is the right one.”

The survey, conducted among 2,531 registered voters from Aug. 26 to 28, also found that Americans were divided on tariffs.  Fifty percent of respondents said they approved the existing and planned tariffs, while the other 50 percent opposed those measures.

Trump has sought to take a tougher stance on the Chinese regime to end its decades-long protectionist and trade-distorting policies. He launched a tariff campaign against Chinese imports last year as part of his trade strategy, which prompted Beijing to counter with new duties on U.S. goods.

The trade dispute between the United States and China escalated in recent weeks after the Trump administration imposed 15 percent tariffs on $112 billion worth of Chinese goods. In retaliation, Beijing began to impose additional tariffs of 5 to 10 percent on American goods, including soybeans and crude oil.

Trump has repeatedly accused Beijing of ignoring its pledges and seeking to stall trade talks until the 2020 election, in the hope of dealing with a Democratic president who takes a soft line on China.

Trump said in a tweet on Sept. 3 that China “would love to be dealing with a new administration so they could continue their practice of ‘ripoff USA.’”

He warned, however, the talks “would get MUCH TOUGHER” for Beijing if he wins the second term.

“In the meantime, China’s Supply Chain will crumble and businesses, jobs and money will be gone,” he said.

The U.S. public’s view of China turned sharply negative amid the growing trade war between the world’s two largest economies, another survey showed.

Sixty percent of Americans said they had an unfavorable view of China, up from 47 percent in 2018, according to a Pew Research Center poll released last month. The result marked the highest level since the inception of the survey in 2005.

The image of China among Americans has fluctuated over the years. During President Barack Obama’s first term in office, positive views surpassed negative ones. However, negative views have mostly outweighed since then, according to the Pew study.

Follow Emel on Twitter: @mlakan
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