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What do Americans think about China?

What began as a simple question posed by a fan who wrote in to VOA Learning English has inspired a new VOA English web and radio series that aims to examine common perceptions Americans have about China.

VOA reporter Michael Lipin hosts the new series, What Americans Think About China. To get answers, Lipin relies on a variety of sources. This month, he used data compiled by Pew and Gallup, research from the academic community, and interviews with foreign policy experts.

“There are a number of surveys on American attitudes toward China, but what we do in this new series is identify trends, and explain why many Americans have mixed feelings about China.”

The series launched last week with four installments on the English-language radio program Daybreak Asia, and is also available online. Last week’s segments include interviews with David Wertime, senior editor at Foreign Policy magazine; Leslie Gelb, president emeritus at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York; Elizabeth Economy, an analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Robert Daly, director of the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States.

Daly told VOA that many Americans who report having negative feelings about China in surveys and polls have little interest in foreign affairs, Chinese or otherwise. “That means that, like most human beings, they take shortcuts to understanding China,” Daly said.

Lipin said he hopes the series will provide the inquisitive fan – and other listeners worldwide – with a clearer picture of what Americans think about their chief economic rival.

“I hope the series will inspire new questions and dialogue on this complex topic,” Lipin said.

Join the Twitter conversation on this issue using the hashtag #AmericansOnChina.