Below are the findings from all three surveys. Please explore each finding to read more in-depth analysis and understand how CSIS experts interpreted the survey data.
U.S. Thought Leaders Analysis
An overwhelming majority of U.S. thought leaders want to work with allies and partners to respond to the challenge from China even if it hurts relations with Beijing.
Of thought leaders surveyed across all sectors, 81% believe the emphasis in U.S. national security strategy toward China should be on prioritizing cooperation with allies and partners even if it harms relations with China.
U.S. thought leaders are prepared to take considerable risk to defend U.S. allies and partners, including Taiwan, against military threats from China.
On a scale of 1–10, where "10" means "worth taking significant risk," the survey revealed mean scores of 7.00 or more for defending Japan (8.86), Australia (8.71), South Korea (8.60), and Taiwan (7.93), as well as an unnamed ally or partner in the South China Sea (7.12).
On a scale of 1–10, where "10" means "worth putting other priorities at significant risk," the mean response from thought leaders overall was 7.04 (7.40 with respect to Hong Kong, 6.92 for Tibet and Xinjiang, and 6.79 for rights of dissidents in China).
A strong majority of national security and business experts favor banning Huawei from the U.S. 5G market.
Although a large majority oppose broad-based decoupling, more than two-thirds of respondents support blocking Huawei from the U.S. 5G market (35% would also ban the trade of high-tech components with Chinese companies such as Huawei, and another 17% would do that and sanction third countries that do not do the same).
When asked to select promising areas for increased U.S.-China cooperation, the first choice among American thought leaders overall is addressing climate change (37% of "first choice" responses), followed by global health (14%) and student/scholarly exchange (11%). However, some focus group discussion participants pointed out that cooperation on an issue such as climate change could include student and scholarly exchange and that these are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
When asked to select significant causes of U.S.-China confrontation, the first choice among American thought leaders overall is the Trump administration’s policies (24% of "first choice" responses), followed by China’s assertive military and foreign policy (15%), a power shift that made confrontation inevitable (14%), and Xi Jinping’s authoritarian leadership style (14%).
Thought leaders think China and the United States will both lose influence globally because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Among thought leaders, 45% believe that U.S.-China competition in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic will cause both countries to lose influence globally, while 33% think China will gain relative influence globally.
U.S. Public Analysis
Overall, 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%.
A plurality of the U.S. public (45%) thinks the best approach toward China on national security concerns is to prioritize cooperation with allies and partners even if it harms relations with China.
Americans are prepared to take considerable risk to defend allies and partners if they come under threat from China.
On a scale of 1–10 where "10" means worth taking significant risk, the survey reveals mean scores of 6.00 or more for defending South Korea (6.92), Japan (6.88), Taiwan (6.69), and Australia (6.38), as well as an unnamed ally or partner in the South China Sea (6.97).
Overall, 60% of the U.S. public thinks a major U.S.-China military conflict is possible but not likely; 26% believe that conflict is likely; and 11% think it is inevitable.
Americans are divided about whether to prioritize international agreements or direct bilateral tariffs to pressure China to change its economic policies.
Overall, 35% of the public supports using international agreements and rules to pressure China to change its economic policies, while 33% support using unilateral tools such as economic sanctions and tariffs to pressure China.
A plurality (42%) of the U.S. public thinks the administration’s approach has damaged U.S. economic interests without achieving positive change in China, and 21% believe it has hurt U.S. consumers and exporters but protected important U.S. industries. In contrast, 28% believe the administration’s approach has been effective in producing some tactical changes in Chinese economic policy, while only 10% think it has been effective in forcing major long-term changes in Chinese economic policy.
On a scale of 1–10 where "10" means "worth putting other priorities at significant risk," the mean response from the U.S. public was 6.79 (6.9 with respect to Hong Kong, 6.66 for Tibet and Xinjiang, and 6.73 for rights of dissidents in China).
The public is relatively less pessimistic than thought leaders about the impact of Covid-19 on American influence vis-à-vis China in the world.
While 33% of U.S. thought leaders think China will gain more influence globally relative to the United States because of the Covid-19 pandemic, 23% of the public are unsure of the impact, 18% believe the United States will gain more influence, and only 16% believe that China will gain more influence.
U.S. Allies & Partners Analysis
Among thought leaders surveyed in Asia and Europe, 74% would like the United States to prioritize cooperation with allies and partners even if it harms relations with China, and 56% think their own country should prioritize cooperation with the United States and other allies to balance China on national security.
Thought leaders in Asia and Europe do believe the United States is prepared to take significant risk to defend them against Chinese military threats.
There is strong consensus among thought leaders in Asia and Europe that the United States is prepared to take risk to defend Japan (mean score of 6.89); Taiwan (6.42); South Korea (6.39); and Australia (6.16) against threats from China, but there is less consensus on defending an unnamed ally or partner in the South China Sea (5.43), though Northeast Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan) are generally more confident (6.14).
Allies and partners overwhelmingly think the United States would prevail in a conflict with China . . . today.
Overall, 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.
Thought leaders among U.S. allies and partners are equally concerned about Huawei as Americans. More than two-thirds of those surveyed think their country should ban Huawei’s entry into their 5G market, with 30% of those also supporting a ban on trade in telecom components.
There is a consensus among thought leaders surveyed in Asia and Europe that their own countries should take significant risk to advance human rights in China.
On a scale of 1–10 where "10" means "worth putting other priorities at significant risk," the mean response from U.S. allies and partners overall is 6.23 (6.50 with respect to Hong Kong, 6.19 for Tibet and Xinjiang, and 6.01 for rights of dissidents in China).