Chinese people believe the United States is the "top threat" facing their country, a poll showed Wednesday, with most suspecting the world's number one economy of trying to "prevent China from becoming an equal power."
A survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center revealed 45 percent of Chinese people consider U.S. power and influence to be a "major threat" — more than economic instability at 35 percent, climate change at 34 percent and the Islamic State group at only 15 percent.
The news comes as Beijing and Washington are at loggerheads over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, with the U.S. urging China to adhere to the rule of law and Beijing accusing its ally of interference.
The vast majority of Chinese people – 75 percent of those surveyed – believe their country plays "a more important role in world affairs" than a decade ago.
However, this confidence in China's international stature contrasts with a growing sense of unease among many, the survey showed, with about three-quarters of respondents saying their "way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence" — up from 64 percent in 2002.
Meanwhile, the survey also found that half of the 3,154 respondents in the inquiry had a "favorable opinion" of the U.S. — including 60 percent of those aged between 18 and 34.
Despite China's increasing diplomatic influence, 56 percent of Chinese people said they wanted their leaders to focus on their country's challenges such as official corruption, which most said was a problem despite the general anti-corruption campaign of President Xi Jinping which has been one of the centerpieces of his administration.