World views of China deteriorate
June 8, 2021 - During his visit to Europe from June 9-16, U.S. President Joe Biden will encourage European leaders to work more closely to constrain China, especially over allegations of forced labour in Xinjiang province, home to the Muslim Uighur minority.
President Biden will also affirm America’s commitment to NATO and transatlantic security after the drama of the Trump years. But the world’s most populous nation will likely attract Biden’s most challenging comments.
Biden spelt out his China goal in February when he told the Munich Security Conference that the U.S., Europe and Asia had to “push back against the Chinese government’s economic abuses and coercion”.
Beijing’s hard-line foreign policy can be traced to 2012 when Xi Jinping rose to the top of the Chinese Communist Party. Xi assumed office as president a year later.
China has faced a barrage of international criticism for its crackdown on the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, repression of more than one million Uighur Muslims in “re-education” camps, aggressive military activity in South and East China seas, a deadly clash with India in the Himalayas.
Australia’s recent call for an investigation into China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a trade war that has hit Australia’s coal, barley, beef, cotton and wine industries.
Surveys by the Pew Research Center found that, in 10 of 14 major economies, negative opinions of China had reached their highest level since Pew began polling the question more than a decade ago. In the U.S., 73% of respondents reported a “very unfavourable” or “somewhat unfavourable” impression of China. In Australia, this reached 81%, while Japan recorded 86%, following China’s recent activity around Japan’s Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands.