Americans believe human rights are the most important issue in relations between Beijing and Washington, according to the first Chinese-led study of US attitudes towards the country, released Sunday.
Beijing has invested heavily in promoting its image abroad, from hosting multi-billion dollar extravaganzas like the 2008 Olympics to this month's promotional ad blitz in New York's Times Square.
But the study found that 80 percent of Americans think Beijing restricts human rights, which researchers at Shanghai's Jiaotong University said revealed "fundamental ideological differences between the United States and China".
The survey was released a week after President Hu Jintao went on a state visit to the US.
In the study, more than two-thirds of Americans -- 67.4 per cent -- said promoting and defending human rights should be a high priority for Washington in deciding policies toward China.
Another 20.4 percent said they were a moderate priority, according to the survey conducted with help from Duke University and Indiana University, and only 12 percent said human rights were a low priority.
After human rights, respondents felt strongest about promoting a healthy environment as a policy aim, with 65.3 percent calling it a high priority and 22.6 percent making it a moderate priority.
Americans were most ambivalent about increasing trade between the two countries, with 29.3 percent saying it was a high priority and exactly the same percentage calling it a low priority.
However, 59.3 percent said they believed cutting offtrade with Chinawould hurt the US economymore than it would hurt China.
More than three quarters -- 77 percent -- expect China's influence in the world to continue to grow over the next 10 years.
The survey was based on a random sample of 810 respondents interviewed by Indiana University's Centre for Survey Research in the summer of last year, with researchers at Jiaotong University analysing the findings.
The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.