WASHINGTON  - Despite a slew of disputes, most Americans view China as a friendly nation although they are divided in their general attitude toward the rising power, a poll showed Tuesday.

Major US polling company Gallup, in a survey conducted with the state-run China Daily, found that Americans under age 35 held more favorable views of China and that those who follow news closely were more likely to be critical. The survey was released as China’s Vice President Xi Jinping, who is likely to become the Asian power’s next leader, visited Washington for talks that come amid disputes on issues including trade, Syria and human rights. Some 63 percent of US adults — and 69 percent of US “opinion leaders” from government, think tanks, the media and elsewhere — said that they considered China to be “friendly, but not an ally.”

Some 13 percent of the general public viewed China as an ally, while 23 percent said that China was either unfriendly or an enemy. An overwhelming 71pc of adults and 85 percent of opinion leaders said it was important to build a strong relationship with China. But opinions were more evenly split when Americans were asked for their general opinion on China. Some 42 percent of the general public saw China favorably and 44 percent viewed the nation unfavorably.

A large number of Americans agreed that China “will eventually replace the US as the world’s leading power.”

 Forty-two percent of the general public agreed with the statement, while 33 percent disagreed.

Xi will head Wednesday to Iowa and then to California for a series of public events. Some experts believe that Xi chose travel outside of Washington mindful of the better image of China outside of Washington.

Gallup said it surveyed 2,007 Americans between November 30 and December 18 with a margin of error of 2.68 percentage points. It separately polled 250 opinion leaders in December.