Feelings regionally divided . . .
A new poll by Pew Research, conducted in 34 countries from May to October of this year, finds that global public opinion about China is mixed. General favourability toward China was highest among respondents in Russia (71%), Nigeria (70%), Lebanon (68%), and Israel (66%). The least favourable views were in Western Europe (ranging from 25% in Sweden to 39% in Spain), the U.S. and Canada (27% and 26%, respectively), India (23%), and Japan (14%). All of the Asian countries surveyed had more negative than positive views of China. According to Pew, feelings toward China among its neighbours have been trending negatively in recent years.
Economics a brighter spot . . .
When asked whether China’s economic rise was a good thing or bad thing for their economy, sentiment in almost all countries was positive. That includes 50 per cent in the U.S. and 53 per cent in Canada, two countries that are locked in tense trade or diplomatic disputes with Beijing. India was the most pessimistic; only 20 per cent of respondents felt that China’s economic rise was positive for them, in contrast to 61 per cent who felt it was negative. On Chinese investment, views once again diverged. Many in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East felt it helped their economies, while Australia and Asian countries worried it gave China too much influence. Canada was not included in that portion of the Pew survey, but APF Canada’s polling in 2018 indicated that Canadians have reservations about Chinese investment, depending on its type.
Concerns about growing military might . . .
One striking finding from the poll is continued concerns about China’s growing military strength. When asked whether this was a good or bad thing for their country, large majorities in Canada (82%), Australia (84%), the U.S. (81%), and the Philippines (71%) said it was a bad thing. The countries most concerned are two of China’s neighbours – Japan and South Korea – where nine in 10 respondents said it was a bad thing.