BEIJING — While China’s anti-U.S. rhetoric gets a lot of attention, the country’s elites and public are in reality less antagonistic toward the United States, according to a study to be released Thursday.

And while distrust on both sides is high, most Chinese see the United States as a competitor rather than an outright enemy, the report said.

The survey, jointly conducted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington and a Chinese general, is one of the first to target Chinese military elites as well as their U.S. counterparts for opinions on the United States. The study also looked at the opinions of four other categories of elites — government officials, business leaders, academics and journalists — as well as the general public.

Some of the most interesting questions were about who should be leading the world — a hot topic with China’s rise as a global power and the perception that America may be facing decline.

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By William Wan

Photo: Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao (R) accompanies U.S Vice President Joe Biden (L) to view an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People on December 4, 2013 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang-Pool/Getty Images)