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.

First ChoiceSecond ChoiceThird Choice
Addressing climate change36.82%20.19%12.65%
Global health14.32%24.33%17.03%
Scholarly/student exchange10.91%11.92%15.57%
Countering proliferation by North Korea9.09%10.46%13.38%
Updating the rules related to global economic governance5.91%5.84%8.52%
Global infrastructure development5.45%5.35%8.76%
Cultural exchange5.23%9.25%9.98%
Advancing scientific knowledge and technological innovation2.95%7.06%6.33%
Combating terrorism1.59%3.41%5.35%
Investment in the U.S. economy0.91%0.97%0.97%
Exploration in space0.23%1.22%1.46%
  • <5%
  • 5%
  • 10%
  • >15%
CSIS | Thought Leaders Q32

By the Numbers

  • 37%

    of U.S. thought leaders believe climate change is the most promising area for U.S.-China cooperation.

  • 14%

    of U.S. thought leaders believe global health is the most promising area for U.S.-China cooperation.

The 2020 Chicago Council survey suggests the American public agrees on the potential to cooperate with China on climate change, favors a restrictive approach to scientific research, and is somewhat divided on whether to promote student exchange. Overall, 72% want to work with China on climate change, 50% support restricting scientific research, and 45% support limiting the number of Chinese international students in the United States. Across the political spectrum, 65% of Republicans support reducing the number of Chinese students studying in the United States, compared to 44% of independents and 32% of Democrats.