Tracking Public Opinion Towards US-China Trade Tensions

Brunswick’s second wave of the US-China Trade Tracker finds increased skepticism toward businesses and worry among consumers of the economic impact of the trade dispute.

Recent challenges in the US-China relationship and geopolitical complexity are negatively affecting consumer sentiment in the US and China. The American public has become more pessimistic in how they view China, its companies, and the bilateral relationship. And the Chinese public have become more concerned about the economic impact of a prolonged trade dispute.

Brunswick Group’s latest online survey of nationally representative samples of 1,000 American consumers and 1,000 Chinese consumers was conducted October 16-24, 2019. This is a follow up to a first wave of research conducted June 5-6, 2019.

The findings indicate seven key trends:

  • US-China trade tensions are seen to be more about competing ideologies than economics, 62% of Chinese consumers and 54% of American consumers agree that the dispute is about competing ideologies rather than trade.
  • There is growing opposition towards close business and economic ties between the US and China, 58% of Chinese consumers agree that Chinese companies should invest less in the US, and 52% of American consumers agree that US companies should invest less in China. In addition, 60% of Americans want US companies to move their operations and supply chains out of China.
  • Consumers are very concerned about the economic impact of the trade dispute, 79% of Chinese consumers and 59% of American consumers believe the trade dispute will result in a global economic recession.
  • American and Chinese businesses face increasing negativity from consumers in the other country, 46% of Chinese consumers and 61% of American consumers have a negative opinion of the US/Chinese companies.
  • American consumers believe it is important for US companies to stand up for American values in China, 72% agree that this should be a priority for US firms.
  • US public opinion is worsening faster than public opinion in China, US agreement that US-China collaboration is in the best interest of both countries dropped 11 percentage points to 72% (4 percentage point drop in China)
  • Chinese consumers say that the trade dispute is affecting their spending behavior, 51% are purchasing more from Chinese brands, 48% have avoided purchasing from a US brand, more than 60% have become less likely to travel to the US for business or leisure.

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