America’s CEOs need to do more to reverse US-China trend

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If negative views of a company increased by 26 percentage points over a decade, the chief executive officer of said company would have a major problem.

In fact, that CEO would probably be asked to leave.

Sadly, when it comes to US-China relations no one seems to care, and no one has been asked to leave.

In the United States, negative views of China have increased by 26 percentage points between 2006 and 2016. And American negativity toward China has been higher than Chinese negativity toward the United States in every year since 2014.

A January 2017 Pew Research survey of Americans found that 65 percent of respondents said China is either an adversary (22 percent) or a serious problem (43 percent), while only about a third (31 percent) said China is not an issue.

And in a separate Spring 2016 survey by Pew Research, a majority (55 percent) of Americans held an unfavorable opinion of what more and more Americans see as their largest Asian rival.

This is the public affairs reality that the CEO leadership of America’s blue-chip multinational companies are facing right now.

One of their largest and most promising markets is seen domestically as the home of an adversary power that allows fertile ground for politicians supporting protectionist policies and trade halting tariffs on Capitol Hill. Actions that if successfully passed would force Beijing to respond with retaliatory trade tactics from less investment here to increased limits stifling full access to the growing Chinese consumer marketplace for American farmers and exporters.

However, in the cozy and elite world of U.S.-China commercial relations where most of the work takes place in posh hotels and big chair summits, the deterioration of the way Americans see China seems to have escaped the captains of industry. Boardrooms across the nation continue to operate as if all is smooth and satisfactory.

It is time for those that care about a productive and engaged US-China commercial relationship to take these polls seriously and engage Americans in Main Street coffee shops and at picnic tables for backyard summer BBQs.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross specializes in global communications, thought leader management, and event production at the intersection of politics, policy, and profits. Working with senior executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and entrepreneurial startups, Marc helps international business leaders navigate globalization, disruption, and politics.