American Adversaries

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by Peter Valente
North Korean military parade. [Image: Picture Alliance]

YouGov recently released the findings from its survey on how Americans view relations with 144 countries. In general, Asian countries faired well in the eyes of Americans.

Not including North Korea, Russia, or the Middle East, the Asian country viewed least favorably by Americans is Pakistan. The South Asian country — in which Osama Bin Laden was found to be hiding, and which has seen frequent military conflicts with US close friend India — was viewed as an "enemy" by 19% of Americans, and as "unfriendly" by a further 34%.

China, despite being on the receiving end of tough rhetoric from both sides of the isle in Washington, was seen as an enemy by only 11% of Americans, with 34% viewing it as unfriendly (survey was taken before the Trump-Xi summit). Some of the negative views of China undoubtedly come from its alliance with North Korea which topped the list with 57% of Americans viewing it as an enemy. While South Korea was viewed as an enemy by only 2% fewer Americans than was China, only 10% saw Seoul as unfriendly. The data was consolidated into charts by VisualCapitalist.

Why is Asia viewed favorably by Americans?

Positive exposure to Asia and Asians now reaches Americans in many forms. With two thirds of international students in the US coming from Asia, and Asian tourists contributing nearly $10 billion to the US economy annually, many Americans have experienced the positive cultural and economic impacts of Asian visitors. Additionally, one third of US jobs created by exports are supported by exports to Asia, and Asian investment into the US has reached nearly half a trillion dollars. Another good reason for Americans to view Asia favorably is that nearly 20 million Americans are of Asian descent.

Peter Valente is a Project Assistant with the East-West Center in Washington.