Poll shows more Canadians see India as an opportunity, China as a threat
There is an increase in the number of Canadians viewing India’s growing economic power as an opportunity, while more and more of them now see China’s rise in the domain as a threat. These are among the findings of a national opinion poll conducted by the Vancouver-headquartered non-profit Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada).
The organisation that strives to be a bridge between Canada and the Asia-Pacific region has been tracking Canadian attitudes towards the economic rise of India and China since 2004.
“Between 2018 and 2020, the change in perceptions for China and India has followed opposing paths, something we have not observed before. While 72% of Canadians agree that the growing economic power of India is more of an opportunity than a threat, a modest increase since 2018 (71%), only 35% of Canadians agree that the growing economic power of China is more as an opportunity than a threat, down from 60% in 2018,” the results of the annual survey revealed.
This is the also the first time that the survey has shown the majority of respondents seeing China’s economic power as a threat, at 57%.
Again, the perception towards India is headed towards a positive direction with just 18% seeing its economic growth as a threat, which the APF Canada described as “an all-time low”.
Canadians’ general feeling towards India has also remained stable. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means “very warm, favourable”, India scores 5.7.
“Over the past decade, the governments of India and Canada have been making efforts to build a mutually beneficial relationship, which can only prosper further if the Canadian public also holds a positive view,” the report noted. “On the flip side, Canadians’ feelings towards China, which had been remarkably stable for the past decade until 2018, dropped from 4.9 to 3.6 in 2020.”
The survey said there was support for Canada entering into a free trade agreement (FTA) with India, though that was not the case with regard to China. Just about one-third voiced support for an FTA with China, which 59%.
“It marks the lowest support for an FTA with China since we started polling Canadians on the subject in 2012,” the report stated.
One of reasons behind the growing animosity of Canadians’ towards China is the Covid-19 pandemic. Two-third of Canadians disagreed with the statement that the Chinese government “acted responsibly” at the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan.
The vast majority, at 68%, “feel that Canada should support an independent inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 virus”.
Human rights abuses and the arrest and detention of two Canadians by the Chinese government are also feeding into the escalating negativity.
“The majority of Canadians (83%) feel that Canada should stand up to China as Canadian national values such as the rule of law, human rights, and democracy are on the line,” the report pointed out, while “67% think Canada should work alongside the US and other allies to pressure China, and about 67% also believe Canada should take a more aggressive approach towards China” to liberate the two imprisoned there.