Poll: Majority supports strengthening ties with China and getting tough on trade and economic issues

Three years ago — prior to the global economic crisis that ramped up in the spring of 2010 — only 30 percent considered China a global economic leader, compared with 41 percent that thought of the U.S. in that role. As recently as February 2008, the positions of these two countries were reversed when 41 percent named the U.S. and 30 percent said China is the world's leading economic power.

Few Americans (6 percent) place the countries of the European Union in the top position. 

During the past two decades, views on the nation's political, economic and military ties to Europe have dropped from 50 percent in 1993 and 44 percent in 2001 to 37 percent now. 

In the most recent poll, 60 percent of Americans asked see China's economic strength as a greater threat than its military strength. 

American views of China are not extreme in a global perspective. A 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey found about half of Americans express a favorable opinion of China, while 36 percent said they felt unfavorably.

In that survey, attitudes toward China were far more negative in France, Germany and Turkey, as well as among some of China's neighbors, such as Japan, South Korea and India. 

By contrast, China is viewed in an overwhelmingly favorable light in places like Kenya and Nigeria, where the U.S. is also viewed very favorably, as well as in Pakistan, where opinions of the U.S. are mostly negative.