A survey of American and Chinese business and opinion leaders suggests that despite growing mistrust, citizens from both nations acknowledge the need for diplomacy and improved political and business cooperation.

The study, commissioned by the Pasadena-based Committee of 100, also indicates that both Chinese elites and the public appear more willing to openly criticize their own government than they did in 2007, the last time the survey was done. The committee is a national non-partisan Chinese-American cultural-exchange advocacy organization.

About 54 percent of Chinese business leaders surveyed negatively rate their government’s handling of bilateral relations with the U.S., compared with only 19 percent five years ago. Opinion leaders in China give a 74.5 percent negative rating, up from 37 percent. Among the Chinese public, the negative rating rose to more than 50 percent.

Committee Chairman Dominic Ng, chief executive of East West Bancorp, said the survey is distinctive, not only due to the large size of the Chinese sample but also the candor shown by respondents. Some 1,400 people were surveyed in the U.S. and 3,775 in China.

“We will use this study to advocate for constructive relationship-building between the peoples of the U.S. and China and to further promote education, diplomacy, and leadership development,” said Ng in a statement.

The study also found that more than 80 percent of U.S. business and opinion leaders consider China’s emergence as a military power a potential or serious threat, while roughly 40 percent of all Chinese respondents think the U.S. military presence in the Asia Pacific region only creates tension.

More than 50 percent of the American public and elites believe the U.S. should trust China “little” or “not at all.” More than 50 percent of the Chinese public and elite likewise think the United States is not trustworthy.

Poor intellectual property rights protection ranks first (81 percent) among U.S. business leaders’ top concerns about doing business in China. In comparison, less than half of China’s business leaders consider the issue to have a negative impact on foreign investment.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive in the United States and Horizon Research Consultancy Group in China, was released as part of the committee’s annual conference in Pasadena.