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US Congress harsher on China than public
Updated: 2005-04-07 09:53

The U.S. public and business community increasingly view China in a positive light, but Congressional staff hold strongly critical views of Beijing, according to a new survey on Wednesday.

The poll by Zogby International showed the America public and Congressional staff united in citing human rights as their top concern about China and in voicing fears about job losses. Business leaders listed counterfeiting as their top concern.

A majority of respondents from the general public, business leaders and Congressional staff agreed that low-cost Chinese goods benefited U.S. consumers and that bilateral trade was good for both countries.

But the Congressional staffers were markedly more hawkish on the questions of whether China was an economic or military threat and whether the United States should intervene in the event Beijing attacked Taiwan.

The 2005 poll, commissioned by the Committee of 100, a group of prominent U.S. citizens of Chinese descent, found 59 percent of ordinary Americans held a favorable view of China, up from 46 percent in a poll taken in 1994. Only 19 percent of Congressional staff saw China positively in the 2005 survey.

Only 24 percent of the public saw China as an economic threat and 15 percent regarded the country as a military threat. But China was seen as an economic threat by 54 percent of Congressional staff, and a military threat by 36 percent.

"It appears that China is on its way to developing good to very good relations with the heartland, but the debate on policy issues on Capitol Hill is a hostile debate," said John Zogby, chief executive officer of the polling agency.

"China has a problem on Capitol Hill, period," he told a news conference. He said hawkishness on China transcended party lines on human rights, the environment and military issues.

Asked if the United States should intervene if a declaration of independence by Taiwan led to hostilities with Beijing, 32 percent of the public said "yes," while 59 percent said "no."

But 52 percent of Congressional staff supported the idea of U.S. defending Taiwan, while only 19 percent rejected it, indicated the poll, published on www.committee100.org.

Zogby International polled 203 U.S. opinion leaders and 1202 American adults at random in December 2004. The agency then surveyed 101 mostly senior Congressional staff members and 150 U.S. business leaders in March 2005.

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