APF Canada’s 2017 National Opinion Poll: Canadian Views on Engagement with China

VANCOUVER, BC – May 3, 2017 According to the 2017 National Opinion Poll (NOP) Canadian Views on Engagement with China released today by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada), uncertainty about the direction that Canada-U.S. relations are taking under a Trump presidency coupled with concerns about rising protectionist sentiments in Britain and Europe are motivating Canadians to be more open to engagement with China.

Canadians feel that global economic dynamics are changing: over two-thirds (68%) feel that China can become a global leader on economic issues, while 62% believe that expanded trade with China is important today due to rising protectionism in the U.S. and Europe. Our poll also shows that over half of Canadians (55%) support a Canada-China FTA, up 9 points from 2016 and up 19 points since 2014.

According to the 2017 NOP, when it comes to enhanced engagement with China, Canadians also support increasing the number of highly qualified immigrants entering Canada, investing in transport infrastructure, and prioritizing collaboration on measures to address pollution and protect the environment.

“Our 2017 National Opinion Poll results across a number of key indicators – from free trade and economics, to infrastructure, immigration and the environment – show a Canadian public increasingly open to deeper engagement with China,” said APF Canada President and CEO, Stewart Beck. “These results don’t capture the Canadian upset over Trump’s recent decision on softwood lumber, or his comments on our supply management regime for dairy. And yet they clearly demonstrate that the anti-trade sentiments we’re seeing in Europe and the States are pushing diversification into the national conversation around Canada’s future economic prosperity.”

APF Canada’s new poll shows that Canadians’ support for expanded economic engagement with China stems from their belief that it will bring more opportunities for Canadian business (76%) and youth (70%), bring greater economic prosperity to Canada (57%), encourage needed investment in Canadian businesses (63%), and increase Canada’s international competitiveness (54%). 

Notwithstanding overall public support for Canada’s greater economic engagement with China, Canadians continue to have concerns that engagement will make Canada more vulnerable to economic and political pressures from China and will lead to an influx of cheap Chinese goods in domestic markets. Canadians also expect their government to call on the Chinese government to respect human rights and introduce democratic reforms in the Chinese political system.

“This is consistent with our previous polling on Canadian attitudes toward Asia,” said Dr. Eva Busza, Vice-president, Research and Programs, at APF Canada. “Canadians expect a broad and balanced agenda from government that addresses both economic, as well as social and political issues, in connection with China. But clearly, based on these new results, as Ottawa pushes forward with its China agenda, it can draw some confidence from Canadians’ increasing openness to stronger economic relationships with the world’s second largest economy.”

For 13 years, APF Canada’s National Opinion Poll has examined Canadian opinion and attitudes towards Canada’s engagement with Asia. This year, APF Canada commissioned EKOS Research Associates to conduct a survey of 1,654 Canadian adults who are participants in the Probit online survey panel. The survey was conducted from March 20 to March 27, 2017.

The full poll results are available here.

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About the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada:

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada is dedicated to strengthening ties between Canada and Asia with a focus on expanding economic relations through trade, investment and innovation; promoting Canada’s expertise in offering solutions to Asia’s climate change, energy, food security and natural resource management challenges; building Asia skills and competencies among Canadians, including young Canadians; and, improving Canadians’ general understanding of Asia and its growing global influence.

The Foundation is well known for its annual national opinion polls of Canadian attitudes regarding relations with Asia, including Asian foreign investment in Canada and Canada’s trade with Asia. The Foundation places an emphasis on China, India, Japan and South Korea while also developing expertise in emerging markets in the region, particularly economies within ASEAN.

Visit APF Canada at www.asiapacific.ca

For media information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Michael Roberts
Communications Manager
Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
Office: 604-630-1527