Canadians Favor Hard-Line Stance Against China, Want Canada to Engage in Human Rights Issues: Poll

November 27, 2020 Updated: November 27, 2020

A new survey shows Canadians want their government to take a tougher stance against China. Negative views spiked as Canadian national values for rule of law, human rights, and democracy have deteriorated in the communist regime over the past decade.

The findings is part of a study on Canadian view on Asia, shown in the 2020 national opinion polling (pdf) released on Nov. 25 by Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada), a Vancouver-based not-for-profit organization.

Canadians believe the human rights conditions in China have worsened drastically in recent years. In 2010, 47 percent of Canadians agreed with the statement that “the human rights situation in China today is better than it was 10 years ago.” That number has dropped starkly to 20 percent in 2020.

Notably, Canadians want to see their government secure the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the “two Michaels,” from China, whether with a stick or a carrot. They have been jailed since December 2018, soon after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies and the daughter of Ren Zhengfi, the founder of the Chinese telecom giant.

“Most respondents feel that Canada should keep engaging China behind closed doors to secure the two Canadians’ release (73%). The second most popular opinion is for Canada to push China more aggressively to secure the two Canadians’ release (67%), and finally, 67% believe that Canada should work with the United States and other allies to pressure China for the release of the two Canadians,” wrote APF Canada.

The outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, whichc auses the COVID-19 disease, is another major factor behind the spike in Canadians’ negative perception of China.

Roughly two-thirds of Canadians disagree that the Chinese regime acted responsibly when the CCP virus first broke out, while 68 percent believe that Canada should support an independent inquiry into the origins of the virus.

APF Canada found a significant positive correlation between feelings for China and opinions about the CCP’s responsibility in the crisis.

“We find that 50% of Canadians who share negative or unfavourable feelings towards China also disagree with the statement that the Chinese government acted responsibly at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak,” wrote the 2020 NOP.

Going forward with Canada’s foreign policy toward Asia, 56 percent of respondents find their government’s topmost priority is to build a closer relationship with other like-minded democracies, including Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, the EU, and the UK.

Most respondent support Ottawa to negotiate free trade agreements (FTAs) with India, ASEAN countries, and the Pacific Alliance. Furthermore, 68 percent of respondents support Taiwan’s participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

APF Canada worked with EKOS Research Associates on the opinion poll, and surveyed 3,519 Canadian adults from Aug. 31 to Sept. 21, via internet, phone, or cellphone. The margin of error is within 1.65 percent for the entire sample.