US relations with China are critically important for the future of world politics. They are also a useful case in which to test the individual-level implications of the liberal commercial peace argument. A plausible case can be made on both sides of the claim that China poses a security threat to the United States. China's economy is growing far faster than the United States' economy, while the country remains a communist autocracy. At the same time, trade between the United States and China has expanded dramatically in the last three decades. Its dual role as a major trading partner and a growing international rival generates substantial uncertainty about China's future status as friend or foe. Using data from a recent survey by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, we find that economic interests help explain individual Americans' assessment of China as a threat and their views concerning hostile policies toward that country. Those who stand to benefit from trade with China hold more positive views of the country and oppose conflictual foreign policies with respect to it. Those whose incomes are likely to decline because of trade with China tend to take the opposite position on these questions.

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