The 2011 Transatlantic Trends Report has revealed that a generation gap has emerged among Americans with regard to China. Young people in the United States viewed China more positively than older Americans. Close to three-in-five (59%) Americans between the ages of 18-24 had a favorable opinion of China, but that favorable opinion was only shared by 33% of the 45-54 age group, 37% of those between 55 and 64, and 36% of those 65 or older.
This gap became more apparent when asked about U.S. national interests. Seventy-six percent of younger Americans (aged 18-24) identified the countries of Asia, such as China, Japan, and South Korea, to be more important than the countries of the European Union (17%).
However, there were few significant age gaps when the same question was posed to EU respondents. Forty-one percent of 18-24 year olds felt Asia was most important to their national interests, a response within five percentage points of answers from the 25-34 year olds, 35-44 year olds, and 45-54 year olds.
Despite U.S. youth viewing China as important to national interests, Europeans were much more likely than Americans to believe China was as an economic opportunity rather than a threat. This year, majorities in the Netherlands (67%), Sweden (65%), the UK (58%), and Germany (57%) as well as around half of the population in Bulgaria (49%) and Romania (51%) considered China an economic opportunity.
This trend was reversed in the United States as 63% of respondents felt China was an economic threat and only 31% viewed the country as an opportunity. Americans are also somewhat more likely to see China as a military threat than those in the EU.