Just 7% of Canadians hold a positive view of China with the vast majority considering the Asian giant negatively, according to a new survey done by an Ottawa-based think tank.
The poll, conducted for the MacDonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), was presented as part of the report, surveyed 1,023 Canadians in English and French at the end of September.
According to the findings, just 7% held either a very positive or a moderately positive view of China. While 20% remained neutral, 73% held either a moderately negative or very negative view of China.
Significantly, 79% see China as posing a serious or moderate threat to Canada, far outpacing other traditional foes such as Russia or Iran.
Relations between Canada and China remain at a low with two Canadians, including a diplomat, in Chinese jails in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described as “hostage diplomacy” being practised by Beijing after a senior Huawei executive was arrested in Vancouver in a case related to defrauding a bank to evade sanctions on Iran.
“This study confirms yet again how out of sync the government of Canada is with public opinion on China’s emerging threat to Canadian sovereignty and national security,” noted MLI senior fellow Charles Burton in a statement released with the report. “As a consequence, the credibility of Canada’s claim of principled commitment to the international rules-based order rings hollower and hollower as the years go by.”
Views of other Asian nations, including that for Taiwan, remain far more positive, though with as many as 51% remaining neutral. As far as India is concerned, 19% are either highly or moderately positive about it, while 34% veer in the other direction, with a large 48% opting for neutrality.
“Canadians held a more positive view of most developed democracies. Overall, countries like Australia, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Taiwan are given high net-positive scores by Canadians. However, Taiwan also has high neutral scores, alongside Israel, Ukraine, Latvia and India. This indicates that these countries have opportunities to improve Canadians’ views,” the statement noted.
Among democracies, the United States under the Donald Trump administration remains an outlier, with 63% negatively inclined against just 20% positive towards Canada’s neighbour and ally. “Modern American populism is facilitating Canadian anti-American sentiments, despite the fact that this strategic relationship provides the bedrock for Canada’s national security and economy,” noted MLI Munk senior fellow Shuvaloy Majumdar.