Australians' trust in China reaches lowest point in 15 years


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 military intentions, infrastructure ambitions in the region, and displays of influence.

The latest Lowy Institute poll on Australian attitudes to international events, released on Wednesday, 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 per cent saying they trust the Asian power either a "great deal" or "somewhat" to act responsibly in the world.

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

Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A similar number of Australians - 30 per cent - have confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping to do the right thing in world affairs, a 13 per cent drop from last year.

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

Three-quarters of Australians would support the government doing more against China's military activities in the region, even if it hurts the economic relationship.

When it comes to perceptions of the US, almost half agree it's in decline relative to China, and so the US-Australia alliance is of decreasing importance.

Close to 70 per cent of Australians think the alliance with the US makes it more likely for Australia to be drawn into war with China.

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

US President Donald Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping in December 2018.
US President Donald Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping in December 2018.

Two-thirds say Donald Trump has weakened Australia's alliance with the US.

Close to half of Australians also think foreign interference in politics is a critical threat, an eight per cent 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.

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