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.

  • U.S. Thought Leaders
  • U.S. Public
  • U.S. Allies & Partners
CSIS | Thought Leaders Q3; Public Q5; Allies & Partners Q2
Public survey did not include "Other" or "Don't Know" options
  • 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.

U.S. National Security & Economic Thought Leaders
71.0%Ban Huawei andother Chinesefirms from U.S.5G market...6.5%Rely onmarket andallow Huaweiand otherChinese firmsto participate12.3%Other10.1%Don’t Know
High-tech Allies & Partners
77.7%Ban Huawei andother Chinesefirms from their5G markets...8.3%No restrictionson Chineseparticipation7.0%Other7.0%Don’t Know
Other Allies & Partners
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.

Evaluated on a scale of "1 – Take no risk" to "10 – Take significant risk"
Hover or click on the visual for details.
CSIS | Thought Leaders Q4-8; Public Q6-10
  • 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.

Evaluated on a scale of "1 – Take no risk" to "10 – Take significant risk"
U.S. Thought Leaders1.4%3.6%3.6%4.5%9.9%10.7%19.7%16.8%11.8%16.1%7
U.S. Public3.2%1.5%2.6%4.6%13.1%11.6%16.3%14.5%7.3%13.5%6.8
U.S. Allies & Partners5.1%5.7%5.3%4.9%14%12.9%16.2%17.8%5.7%10.5%6.2
  • <5%
  • 5%
  • 10%
  • >15%
CSIS | Thought Leaders Q19-21; Public Q21-23; Allies & Partners Q13-15
Does not include respondents that answered "Don't Know"
  • 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.