Chinese attitudes towards Australia are becoming increasingly negative, with a survey revealing that fewer Chinese people are wanting to travel to or study in Australia.
Last month the Australian Studies Centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University, the Global Times Research Centre, and Data 100, undertook a Chinese public opinion poll on Australia.
Dr Diane Hu, from the University of Melbourne and Beijing Foreign Studies University, was the lead investigator on the poll. In an article for Pursuit, Hu noted that more than a third (35.4%) of respondents cited ideological differences as the main barrier to improved bi-lateral relations between Australia and China. Almost 16% reported that these ideological differences have been affected by Australian domestic politics.
While more than half (58.7%) of respondents have perceived Australia as ‘more of an economic partner to China’, this was a decrease from last year’s 66.8%. Meanwhile, 34.2% of respondents see Australia as ‘more of a political or ideological threat to China’ — an increase of 5% from last year. Around 7% consider Australia to be ‘more of a military threat’.
Out of 2,067 respondents, 76.3% were middle to high income earners, and 68.17% had a bachelor’s degree or above. Hu noted that just 11.3% of the national population are middle-and-high income earners, while 15.5% have a bachelor degree or above.
She said the poll results have shown that the lower the income and educational attainment, the stronger the degree of negativity towards Australia.
“In other words, if the poll result is to be adjusted to be nationally representative, it would almost certainly be more negative, possibly by a significant margin,” Hu said.
When asked which country they wanted to travel to, respondents ranked Australia as fourth out of 12. It was ranked second in 2020. Only 13.6% of respondents chose Australia as the country they wanted to study in — down from 16.5% last year.
Fewer than half of the respondents (43.3%) said they expect bilateral relations to improve, with 34.7% not expecting relations to improve, and 22% being unsure.
The poll adopted some of the questions asked in the Lowy Institute’s poll of Australians’ attitudes towards China. The recently released survey findings revealed more than 63% of Australians see China as a security threat rather than an economic partner, and 56% think China is ‘more to blame’ than Australia for the strained Australia-China relationship. Just 16% of Australians trust China to act responsibly in the world.