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An Olympic lift to U.S.-China relations

May the Games help break down walls of fear.

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It is easy to see the Beijing Olympics either as a coming-out party for China or an opportunity to protest what goes wrong there. A third way, however, would be to see the Summer Games as a means for fostering better US-China relations.Late last year we worked on a survey of US and Chinese attitudes toward one another on behalf of the Committee of 100, an organization of leading Chinese Americans seeking to improve understanding across the Pacific. It found that the people of both nations widely accept the growing importance of the US-China relationship. The polling showed that 52 percent of Americans hold favorable views of China, while 60 percent of Chinese hold favorable views of America

It would seem that Americans are ahead of their leadership in recognizing the benefits of a strong US-China relationship. The survey showed that the US public often expressed higher regard for China than did congressional staffers. Despite the negativity toward China that seems prevalent on the Hill, there seems to be a remarkably broad understanding on the part of Americans, for example, that China's manufacturing boom has provided them with low-cost consumer goods. Yet this hope is alloyed with fear – fear of China both as an economic threat and a military threat. Fully 75 percent of Americans say that China causes job losses in the US; the same amount are troubled by China's military modernization.

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