Coronavirus

Americans Say China to Blame for Pandemic

Poll shows two-thirds of Americans say China at fault

Chinese police officers stand in formation just before three minutes of silence to mark the national day of mourning for COVID-19 in Beijing / Getty Images

More than two-thirds of Americans say that the Chinese government is at least partially to blame for the pandemic, according to a new YouGov poll.

The survey, commissioned by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VoC), found that 69 percent of Americans agree that the Chinese government is either "somewhat" or "very" responsible for the spread of the coronavirus. Furthermore, 51 percent of the respondents said China should pay compensation to countries affected by the virus, while only 17 percent opposed such reparations.

Americans also expressed a historically negative opinion about China in light of the coronavirus pandemic, with 67 percent of them viewing China as either a competitor or an enemy. Marion Smith, the executive director of the VoC, said that the numbers indicate that Americans view China just as unfavorably as they did the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

"Americans are waking up to this new reality [about China]," Smith said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon. "We should have learned lessons from the Cold War. In particular, the nature of communist parties."

The survey results indicate that Americans increasingly agree China should be held accountable for its response to the pandemic. Gallup, which has been assessing U.S. attitudes about China since 1978, found that Americans today view China more negatively than ever before. A different poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center in March, also found that a large majority of both Democrats and Republicans currently hold their lowest-ever opinion of China.

The emerging anti-Chinese-government consensus has emboldened policymakers to take aggressive stances against the authoritarian country. Members of Congress have unveiled a slew of legislation in recent months to counter the Chinese government, including a $43 billion plan pushed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) that will beef up the military capabilities of the United States and its allies in the Pacific.

The poll surveyed 1,382 U.S. adults between May 6 and 7. The survey was conducted online.

More than 7 in 10 Americans also agree China should be "penalized," according to the poll. While Americans don't agree on the exact penalty, roughly 4 in 10 support "international sanctions," while 33 percent support additional tariffs on Chinese products.

The survey also found that the coronavirus significantly contributed to the regime's unfavorability rating, with 44 percent of Americans saying that their opinion of the Chinese government became more unfavorable as a result of the pandemic.

Smith said the coronavirus will have permanent effects—U.S. opinion about China will not recover even after the pandemic ends.

"The American people sometimes don't know everything that's going on in the world," he said. "But when something this clear comes out that has affected our lives so completely, the American people can be actually quite decisive. You're going to see a form of decoupling [with China] that I believe is going to be much more complete than many people believe is possible."