Australians Losing Trust in China: Lowy Institute Poll

June 26, 2019 Updated: June 26, 2019

The nation’s trust in China has fallen to its lowest level in 15 years, the Lowy Institute report on Australian attitudes to international events reveals.

Australians are losing trust in China due to its communist government’s military intentions, infrastructure ambitions in the region, and displays of influence.

The latest poll from the Lowy Institute think tank on Australian attitudes to international events, released on June 26, reveals local sentiment towards China has taken a negative turn.

Australians’ trust in China is at its lowest level in the 15 years of the poll, with only 32 percent saying they trust the Asian power either a “great deal” or “somewhat” to act responsibly in the world.

This result is a 20 percent fall from last year, and is 15 percent lower than the previous low of 47 percent in 2008.

A similar number of Australians—30 percent—have confidence in Chinese leader Xi Jinping to do the right thing in world affairs, a 13 percent drop from last year.

Nearly three-quarters of Australians believe the nation is too economically dependent on China, while 68 percent say the federal government is allowing too much Chinese investment.

Nearly three-quarters of Australians also did not believe the Australian government has been doing enough to address human rights concerns with China.

When asked if they would support the Australian military going to “stop a government from committing genocide and killing large numbers of its own people,” 80 percent replied in the affirmative.

A slightly fewer number of Australians—77 percent— said they would support the government doing more against China’s military activities in the Pacific region, even if it hurts the economic relationship.

When it comes to perceptions of the United States, almost half agree it’s in decline relative to China.

Close to 70 percent of Australians think the alliance with the United States makes it more likely for Australia to be drawn into any potential war with China.

However, more than half of those surveyed think Australia’s alliance with the United States makes Australia safer from attack or pressure from China.

Two-thirds say U.S. President Donald Trump has weakened Australia’s alliance with the United States. However, the United States still ranks second—behind New Zealand—in being considered Australia’s best friend in the world, with the United Kingdom coming in third.

Close to half of Australians also think foreign interference in politics is a critical threat—an eight percent increase from last year.

And it appears the public supports the federal government’s decision to ban Huawei from the 5G network, with more Australians wanting protection from foreign state intrusions prioritised over keeping prices down or having the best technology.

The poll was conducted from a pool of 2,130 Australian adults in the month of March. Participants were randomly chosen and contacted on their landline or mobile phone.

By Rebecca Gredley. Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.