skip to main content
Americans Still See China as Nation's Top Foe, Russia Second

Americans Still See China as Nation's Top Foe, Russia Second

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Forty-one percent of Americans name China as the United States’ greatest enemy today, making it the top perceived U.S. adversary for the fourth straight year. Russia ranks second, cited by 26%, followed by Iran at 9%.

Five percent of national adults now name the United States itself, edging out North Korea at 4%.


Although still dominating the perceived U.S. enemies list, China and Russia are named by smaller percentages of Americans than they were a year ago -- falling by nine and six percentage points, respectively -- while references to Iran have grown by seven points. This follows months of news about Iran’s support for the Houthis, a Yemeni rebel group that has escalated its attacks in the region since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict, including firing missiles at Israel and attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea.

The 5% naming the United States as the nation’s greatest enemy is the highest Gallup has recorded since first asking this question in 2001. Before now, no more than 2% of Americans (including 1% in 2023) have ever identified the U.S. as its own worst enemy.

After receiving minimal mentions a year ago, Israel and Ukraine are now cited by 2% each as the nation’s greatest enemy, although Israel previously registered this high in 2020. Meanwhile, mentions of North Korea continue to dwindle after falling from 51% in 2018 to 14% in 2019. Over the past year, the percentage naming North Korea has decreased from 7% to 4%.

The latest results are from Gallup’s annual World Affairs poll, conducted Feb. 1-20. The survey was conducted before the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to force a sale of the Chinese-based social media app TikTok in the U.S. or ban it if no sale is made. The legislation addresses concerns that the current ownership poses national security risks to the U.S. if the Chinese government gains access to Americans’ data.

China No. 1 Enemy for Republicans and Independents, Russia for Democrats

China is among the top two countries cited as the United States’ greatest enemy by all three partisan groups. It ranks first among Republicans (67%) and independents (40%) but is a distant second to Russia among Democrats (18%).

Russia ranks second among independents and nearly ties for second with Iran among Republicans.

Independents (11%) are far more likely than Republicans (1%) or Democrats (2%) to name the United States itself, putting the U.S. third on their list.


Russia, North Korea Have Worst Favorable Ratings; Canada, Japan Tie for Best

As part of the World Affairs survey, Gallup also asks Americans whether they have a very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable or very unfavorable view of various countries.

Although China leads Americans’ mentions of the United States’ greatest enemy, it is not the least favorably rated country of the 21 measured this year, with 20% viewing it very or mostly favorably. That distinction is shared by Russia, with its 8% favorable rating, and North Korea, at 9%.

In addition to Russia and North Korea, Iran (13%), Afghanistan (13%) and Iraq (15%) have lower favorable ratings than China, while the Palestinian Authority’s 18% is similar to China’s.

At the top of the list are Canada (83%), Japan (83%) and Great Britain (82%). Germany, France and Taiwan are all just a notch below, viewed favorably by between 77% and 79%.

Large majorities of Americans also view South Korea, India, Ukraine, Israel, Egypt and Mexico favorably. Just under four in 10 feel positively about Cuba, similar to the proportion for Saudi Arabia.


Independents Grow Less Favorable Toward Israel, Ukraine; More Favorable Toward China

Most of the country ratings this year are statistically similar to their 2023 levels, but a few have declined, while two have increased slightly.

Three Middle East countries either involved in or closely connected to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza have seen their favorable ratings decline by eight to 10 points over the past year.

  • Israel’s favorable rating is down 10 points to 58%, largely owing to less favorable reviews by political independents and Democrats.
  • The Palestinian Authority’s favorable rating has declined eight points, to 18%, falling mainly among independents and Democrats, while its already extremely low favorable rating among Republicans remained so.
  • Egypt’s favorable rating has declined 11 points to 57%, reflecting an especially sharp decline among Republicans, from 67% to 52%.

Although still seen mainly in a positive light, Ukraine’s favorable rating slipped five points to 63%, mostly owing to reduced favorability among independents (from 67% to 55%).

Two countries saw their favorable rating increase by at least five points:

  • Saudi Arabia’s favorable rating is up eight points to 38% -- occurring about equally across partisan groups.
  • China’s 20% favorable rating this year is up from 15% in 2023, owing almost entirely to a jump among independents, from 18% to 29%.

See the accompanying tables for the 2023 and 2024 favorable ratings of each country by party ID and key demographics.

Bottom Line

China and Russia have scant support in the U.S., with their favorable ratings showing little or no improvement over the past year. But with Americans increasingly seeing Iran as the United States’ greatest enemy, and more also identifying the U.S., Israel and Ukraine for this role, fewer now name China and Russia.

To stay up to date with the latest Gallup News insights and updates, follow us on X.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030