Saturday 30 May 2020 | 05:24 | SYDNEY
Saturday 30 May 2020 | 05:24 | SYDNEY

Lowy Institute China Poll 2009


Fergus Hanson


2 December 2009 08:48

The Lowy Institute today released its first public opinion poll conducted in China. There's a lot in there, but here are some of the findings I found most interesting:

  • In the context of the upcoming Copenhagen climate change negotiations and China's lukewarm pledge on emissions intensity reductions, it was striking that of nine possible threats to China’s security, 'environmental issues like climate change' and 'water and food shortages' topped the list ahead of more traditional threats like the US trying to restrain China's growing influence or the possibility of Japan acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • 50% of the Chinese people said the US posed a threat to China's security, making it the most threatening of five countries. Forty-five per cent said Japan posed a threat, but only a third (34%) saw India as a threat and just 21% nominated Russia.
  • Even though 50% of Chinese adults said the US posed a threat to China, it was seen as the best of five countries in which to be educated, putting it ahead of the UK, Singapore, Canada and Australia.
  • Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is hosting a regional meeting at Sydney zoo this week to advance his version of an Asia Pacific community. He should be pleased to note that 65% of the Chinese public agreed strongly or somewhat that Australia should be a member of Asian regional organisations.
  • Last week,The Economist wrote that China's 'leaders seem more petrified than ever of what might happen if its people were given unfettered access to the thoughts of an American president'. And it seems the Chinese people are quite attracted to Western models of government and values. Sixty-eight per cent agreed Australia had attractive values and 57% that it had a good political system.
  • Fieldwork for the poll coincided with a low point in Australia-China relations, including a media offensive against Australia in the wake of the Rebiya Kadeer visit. Despite this, the Chinese public were, mostly, very positive towards Australia (although 48% agreed Australia was a country suspicious of China).  
  • In a worrying sign, on some issues younger and better educated Chinese appeared to be more nationalistic and fearful than their elders. For example, younger Chinese (18-24 years old) were twice as likely as their elders (55 years old and older) to say the US posed the greatest or second-greatest threat to China's security in the next ten years: 60% compared with 30%. Respondents with a university or college education were more likely to say India and Japan posed a threat than those whose highest level of education was junior secondary school: 43% compared with 25% for India and 49% compared with 36% for Japan.