Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 15:53 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 15:53 | SYDNEY

Threat perceptions


Malcolm Cook

6 May 2010 07:49

In preparation for the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC last month, the Pew Centre polled people in 47 countries about the greatest dangers facing the world today.

There are some really interesting differences across countries and regions. The 'spread of nukes' topped the list in the United States, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, while the Northeast Asian troika of Japan, South Korea and the People’s Republic of China were united in their grave concern for pollution and the environment. These three neighbours were the most worried out of the 47 countries polled, even more than the Swedes. The PRC's results though are a bit skewed by the fact that it was the only country to ban the question about the danger of ethnic and religious hatred.

The timing and number of countries polled has a nice irony for Australia. We were not in the 47 countries polled by Pew, and Australia was one of the eight out of 47 national delegations at the Summit not to be led by their national leader.

Filling in for Pew, the 2009 Lowy Poll showed that when it came to perceived threats to Australia we had more in common with the United States and Israel. 69% of Australians felt that unfriendly countries gaining nuclear weapons was a critical threat, while only 52% opted for global warming (down from 66% the year before).

The Lowy Institute's own polling inside the PRC about threats to their own country is consistent with the Pew poll results. 76% of respondents to this Lowy poll felt environmental issues like climate change were a threat to China's security over the next decade. 58% plumped for internal separatists in China while only 52% opted for nuclear weapons held by other governments.

Photo by Flickr user KOREA.NET - Official page of the Republic of Korea's photostream, used under a Creative Commons licence.