In an extensive survey conducted by the Lowy Institute, some surprising and some very unsurprising facts have come to light. The survey finds that in 2020, Australians are less trusting of most countries around the world than in the past. China is the clearest example: in the past two years, trust in China ‘to act responsibly in the world’ has more than halved, down from a majority (52%) saying they trusted China a great deal or somewhat in 2018 to only 23% saying the same in 2020, with nine-point fall this year.
Australians typically place more trust in liberal democracies such as the United Kingdom and Japan, although that trust has also slipped compared with two years ago. The UK garners the highest level of trust from Australians, with 84% saying they trust the UK either a great deal or somewhat. Japan has recorded high levels of trust from the Australian people in recent years. In 2020, eight in ten Australians (82%) continue to trust Japan somewhat or a great deal ‘to act responsibly in the world’. There is a wide gap between Australians’ trust in the United Kingdom and Japan and their trust in the United States.
Around half of Australians (51%) say they trust the United States a great deal or somewhat ‘to act responsibly in the world’, statistically unchanged from 2019. Many more Australians (61%) trusted the United States during President Donald Trump’s first year in office in 2017. In 2020, trust in the United States is 32 points lower than at the high point between 2009 and 2011 (83%), during President Barack Obama’s administration.
Reports of rising Indian nationalism and protests against new Indian citizenship laws may have affected Australians’ levels of trust in India this year. Fewer than half of Australians (45%) trust India ‘to act responsibly in the world’, a 14-point drop from 2018.
While there is a clear decline in Aussies trusting China, in the segment where respondents had at least one parent born in an English speaking country, Prime Minster Scott Morrison beat Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi by a mile with 61% respondents trusting Scott Morrison to do the right thing to Modi’s 42%.China’s Xi JinPing scored a lot worse with only 18% respondents trusting him to do the right thing.
Although the survey was released in June, it is not clear if the Lowy Institute contacted the respondents to record their responses before or after Chinese misadventure with Indian forces in Ladakh in Galwan Valley where there are continuous tensions against the LAC line of actual control in the region. It is also unclear if the respondents knew of the developments which may have on-going implications for some time now.
While only a very small number of Australians have some or a lot of confidence in China’s President Xi Jinping ‘to do the right thing’ in world affairs, nine in ten Australians (94%) want the Australian government to find other markets for Australia to reduce our economic dependence on China.
The other interesting observation which can be made from the data collected in the Lowy Institute survey is that more Australians (55% fall from 82%) see China as ‘more of an economic partner’ than the 41% that see China as ‘more of a security threat’ to Australia.
While the UK PM Boris Johnson managed to win the confidence of 55% of Australian, the top vote has gone to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who scored vote of 87%.
China a democracy!
The survey also recorded the fact that 10% Aussies thought China is a democracy.
To read full Survey, Click Here.