Dip in feelings toward China, but need to collaborate on global issues . . .
APF Canada released its 2020 National Opinion Poll: Canadian Views on Asia today, which tracks changing Canadian attitudes towards Asian countries. While Canadians’ feelings towards China remained relatively stable over the past decade, they dropped significantly in 2020, with only 13 per cent having favourable feelings toward China. Only 35 per cent of respondents consider the country’s growing economic power as more of an opportunity than a threat, the lowest proportion since 2004. The poll also shows that the COVID-19 outbreak has negatively affected Canadian perceptions of China. But despite those negative feelings, China is still perceived as economically important for Canada’s future and an important partner for addressing global issues such as the pandemic and climate change.
Canadians see benefits from trade with Asia and support diversification . . .
The survey shows that apart from China, Canadians share relatively warmer feelings toward almost all other Asian economies, which bodes well for Canada diversifying its exports further in Asia. Southeast Asian countries, in particular, are perceived favourably. The poll shows that a record-high number of Canadians support the government in negotiating a free trade agreement with ASEAN. Canadians overall see the benefits of trading with Asia, with a majority (58%) believing exports of goods and services to Asia offer more opportunities for Canadian companies than interprovincial exports. Meanwhile, 52 per cent support more investment from Asian countries in their provinces.
Immigration seen positively, concerns about anti-Asian racism . . .
Canada is a large, multicultural country. Given that the top three source countries for new immigrants to Canada in 2019 were Asian, it is heartening to note that Canadians feel mostly positive about immigrants from Asia. This is noteworthy as the federal government plans to bring more than one million immigrants in the next three years. Seventy-eight per cent of respondents believe that immigration from Asia positively impacts the Canadian economy, and 64 per cent believe that immigrants from Asia integrate well into Canadian society. However, the poll also shows that the vast majority of Canadians (84%) feel that anti-Asian racism existed in Canada before COVID-19, and 53 per cent believe that it is here to stay beyond the pandemic. This facet of the poll indicates that there is still a lot to do when confronting racism at home.