Europeans’ views of China dropped to historic lows last year. It’s not hard to see why: As the pandemic spread, and people were stuck at home with nowhere to go, the drumbeat of news coverage about China was almost entirely negative.
The Chinese government was accused of being slow to respond to the virus, while some EU nations blamed Chinese companies for sending them faulty masks and Covid-19 tests. Chinese diplomats targeted journalists, researchers, and governments who criticized China’s pandemic response. In one notorious example, the Chinese embassy in France accused care home staff of deserting their posts and leaving seniors to die. (It later said the comment did not refer to France.)
While it’s too soon to say for sure, new data from a survey conducted by Pew Research Center and published today (June 30) indicates that, as lockdowns end across most of Europe, public opinion of China is improving. This could affect the outlook for relations between Beijing and Brussels, which have been strained since the start of the pandemic.