My own personal experience...
While I absolutely agree that the US has done and continues to do lots of questionable things around the world, here I would ask all those inclined to immediately start talking about pots, kettles and moral equivalency to set aside those instincts for a moment, understandable as they may be, and consider the following story.
Some years back, my research group was funded by a large and well-known multinational whose products you have all heard of and purchased because of the work we were doing related to anti-corrosion coatings. My main point of contact was the subject matter expert (SME) on such coatings at said company. We were super excited to be working with them, things started off very well, but after some time, it got a bit...odd.
After months of reporting with no issues, all of a sudden she was super unhappy with our work (though as far as I could tell, we were entirely on track), but could not explain what the specific problem was or why what we were doing wasn't OK. She wanted to talk directly to the technical staff doing the work, get copies of their notebooks, etc. This was an important contract given the stature of the company, but I also knew what my organization would and would not tolerate from a legal standpoint, so I had to explain that we're happy to improve or do things differently and just needed to understand the nature of her concerns better - *but*, sorry, I'm not allows to let anyone outside of my organization interact with or manage my staff or directly access their lab notebooks, the contract is between our organizations, the points of contact are defined as such, etc.
This did *NOT* go over well.
Long story short, I had to escalate this to the leadership of my organization. They knew that I had a lot of experience with such contracts and was not one to cause trouble, so when this contact of mine threatened to cancel our contract because we were not living up to the terms, they fully backed me up in saying that, sorry, we are, and if you don't agree, put your complaints in writing like it says in the contract of p*ss off. Of course, they were much more diplomatic than that, but that was the message. Our head of research admin indicated that she'd never dealt with someone so difficult / nasty in 30+ years of doing the job. The dispute went all the way to the top of the research side of my organization, but they were eventually able to get this very nasty contact of mine replaced on the corporate side. We finished out the contract in peace and delivered what we promised, but it was impossible to raise my new contact on the phone or via e-mail - it became pretty clear after some time that he was dodging me, which was really frustrating, because I felt we had done a good job and had some nice technology to speak about in this context - as effective as existing solutions but addressing a critical issue of consumer concern.
The last contact I had with this very nasty person was a phone call where I first asked (since I knew my legal obligations) if she would be OK with me recording it. She agreed, then proceeded to chew me out for just generally not doing a good job. I challenged her on this point, professionally but firmly, and said, look, we did our job as described, if you have a problem, fine, but tell me what it is or, again, please kindly p*ss off, because I've had enough of your sh*t. OK, again, not the language I've used, I am always professional with clients, but that was the message. She was clearly *not* always professional with clients, because I got an earful of some of the nastiest attitude I've ever had to deal with before she simply hung up on me (in spite of the fact that she had been informed that I was recording the call, OMG :)
I won't bore you with the details of what happened since then, but here's the final result:
My dear friend is going to federal prison for 14 years for corporate espionage on behalf of the Chinese government.
Now, here's the point: Yes, yes, the US does sh*tty things. Nonetheless, I challenge anyone here to find a case like this going in the opposite direction, where some American is caught in China trying to steal secrets from companies over there. In materials research, this simply does not happen, and if it *did*, you can be damn sure that the Chinese government would be raising holy hell about it, the American(s) in question would be all over Chinese state media, there'd be a whole international incident, etc., etc. They would NOT be shy about this, because this would be an absolute wet dream of a PR coup - "Look, the Americans always talk about us, but see what we caught them doing!", etc., etc. The fact that you have never in your life heard such a story tells you what you need to know - this is not a symmetric relationship by any means.
Now, let me be really clear: I have colleagues and friends in the research community who are Chinese and who are working in China. I have advised numerous Chinese PhD students, and while not all of them came to my group with the right safety culture - this is not their fault, they simply were not trained as I was - to be honest, I cannot think of a single truly bad one, and I had plenty of really good ones. I have enjoyed their company, helped them find jobs, and done my best to assist them in kick-starting their careers. I worked for several years to rescue one from an incredibly sh*tty immigration situation that occurred as a direct result of the election of Mayor McTreason (or whatever we're calling him these days) as president and the changes in policy he pushed for at the US State Department that ended up screwing a *ton* of Chinese STEM grad students all over the country (you didn't hear about this nearly as much as all of the racist anti-China sentiment he stirred up in other ways, but it was a total disaster for many, many people). These people were not the problem, and they did not deserve to be treated that way.
The problem is very simple: In China, the underlying social contract is that the Chinese government keeps the economy going like gangbusters and the population puts up with a lot of BS in exchange for improvements in their standard of living (which, let's be fair, have been real and substantial). Labor costs rising and making China less competitive? That's OK, just grab this minority we don't like anyway and force them to make stuff for free. Don't have anything for those folks to make that the world wants to buy? That's OK, just "acquire" the technology by any means necessary and undercut everyone else on the production side until you dominate the market. Look at solar, this is exactly what happened - a good friend no longer works in that industry because of exactly this strategy. Creative trade and monetary policies, well-hidden subsidies, etc., etc. - whatever it takes to realize this outcome, it's been done and is being done as much as possible. In some sense, they have no choice, because the moment the Chinese economy tanks and they have a billion people out of work and seeing their living standard drop, it's "up against the wall, motherf*ckers" time - the people will not stand for it, and that'll be the end of the current system and everyone who runs it. It will NOT be pretty, and they know this. This is going to happen eventually; the sorts of shenanigans we're speaking about are simply delaying the date such that the current leadership "gets theirs" and can kick the can down the road. That's all it is.
Coming back to my own situation, I was pretty angry when I found out - we spent a year and a half with more than one FTE dedicated to that work, and I don't appreciate being lied to or having my ideas stolen. If this person would've been less of a total *sshole about it, they might've actually gotten away with it, but lucky for us, she was absolutely world-class in this regard, and clearly not so careful either. Very, very glad to see that disdain and disrespect get exactly the sort of treatment it deserves. Point is, this happens more often than we hear about, because not everyone tasked with such a mission is so "special".
In any case, just wanted to share that as a reminder - anti-US cynicism develops for legitimate reasons, and I definitely have my share of stones to throw (as an American expat, I am so disappointed with and worried about my country these days), but here I can say from first-hand experience that there really is a difference.