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Mapping the Future of U.S. China Policy
Mapping the Future of U.S. China Policy

CSIS has just released the results of a new survey of the U.S. public and thought leaders in the United States, Asia, and Europe to map perspectives on China policy. The surveys cover a range of issues, including trade, security, human rights, and the trajectory for U.S.-China relations.

We find that the United States and its allies generally converge on the need for a tougher stance toward China but not containment. The results point to possible contours of an enduring strategy around international coalition building on the China challenge.

Some of the findings include:

•54% of the U.S. public names China as the country posing the greatest challenge to the United States—Russia is a distant second at 22%.

•More than two-thirds of thought leaders in the United States, Asia, and Europe support banning Huawei and other Chinese firms from their 5G markets, but there is also some interest in continuing trade in telecom components.

•84% of thought leaders surveyed in Asia and Europe think the United States would prevail in an armed conflict with China in the Western Pacific today, though just 56% think the United States would prevail 10 years from now.

•61% of thought leaders in Asia and Europe say Joe Biden would be better positioned to deal with China.

To find more of the survey results and what it means for U.S. policy toward China, read the following.

Views of U.S. Thought Leaders, the U.S. Public, and U.S. Allies and Partners

A majority of the U.S. public views China negatively and believes by a wide margin that it is the country that poses the greatest challenge to the United States (54%, followed by Russia at 22%).

U.S., European, and Asian thought leaders agree that the best way to deal with China as a national security problem is through increased collaboration among like-minded states.

•Working with allies and partners consistently beats out the options of either pursuing unilateral military hedges or prioritizing cooperation with China.
•Respondents from Southeast Asia and some parts of Europe want U.S. international cooperation but neutrality for themselves.

Technology competition is the greatest concern, with over two-thirds of thought leaders in the United States, Asia, and Europe supporting a ban on Huawei and other Chinese firms from their 5G telecoms markets.


50.9%Ban Huawei andother Chinesefirms from their5G markets...25.7%No restrictionson Chineseparticipation14.4%Other9.0%Don’t Know

CSIS | Thought Leaders Q31; Allies & Partners Q19

•Only 3% of U.S. thought leaders express confidence that markets are the best way to discipline China’s government and business sector, and views are similar among the U.S. public and thought leaders abroad.

•About two-thirds of thought leaders in the United States, Asia, and Europe, together with a plurality of the U.S. public (35%), think the emphasis in economic policy toward China should be to use multilateral agreements to pressure Beijing to abide by its commitments or change its economic policies.

•In the United States, 71% of U.S. thought leaders and 42% of the public think the Trump administration’s approach to confronting China’s economic policies has damaged U.S. economic interests without achieving positive change in China.

Most Americans are prepared to take considerable risk to defend U.S. allies and partners against military threats from China.

•For the most part, thought leaders in Asia and Europe believe these commitments to be credible (a mean score of 6.26, with 10 being most confident).

•In a conflict with China in the Western Pacific today, the United States would prevail according to 79% of national security experts in the United States and 84% of thought leaders in Asia and Europe, but only about half think that would be true 10 years from now.

•However, most Americans and thought leaders in the United States, Asia, and Europe think war with China is possible but not likely.

There is strong support for advancing human rights in China among thought leaders and the U.S. public.

•Half (49%) of thought leaders in the United States favor combining clear criticism of abuses with targeted economic sanctions on China to advance human rights, including 51% of those in the business community.

•Those engaged in civil society and scholarly exchange with China are most hesitant to use sanctions to advance human rights (37%), with a plurality (40%) preferring a combination of quiet dialogue, engagement, and clear public criticism of Chinese abuses.



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