One in 10 Aussies trust China’s government

One in 10 Aussies trust China’s government – survey

This handout photo taken and released on June 12, 2022, from the Australian Department of Defence shows Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles, left, meeting with China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore. (Photo: AFP)

Just over one in 10 Australians have faith in the Chinese government to act responsibly in international affairs, according to a new survey, amid attempts to resume diplomatic links between the nations under the country’s new Labor leadership.

An annual poll by the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based foreign policy think tank, found just 12% of Australians said they trusted China as an international player. The result was sharply down from four years ago in 2018 when the think tank found about 52% of Australians had a positive view of the country.

Speaking in Canberra on Wednesday, Lowy’s Executive Director Michael Fullilove said the result was “no cause for celebration.”

“It is in our interest that relations between Canberra and Beijing are stable,” he said. “This is in China’s interest too.”

A diplomatic freeze had been in place between Canberra and Beijing for more than two years after former Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international investigation into the origins of Covid-19 in April 2020. That outraged Beijing and led to trade barriers being put in place on Australian exports to China, including meat, wine and coal.

Since the election of centre-left Australian leader Anthony Albanese in May, Australia and China have been cautiously exploring reopening diplomatic communication. In June, Australia’s new Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles met with his counterpart Defence Minister Wei Fenghe in Singapore for a “frank” meeting.

Fullilove said while it was important for Australia and China to resume diplomatic communication, the responsibility for repairing the relationship rested with Beijing. “Their actions have changed the way Australians think about China,” he said.

However, Fullilove said some Australian politicians in the previous government had “allowed indiscipline and politics to creep into their public comments” on the China relationship. “There certainly seemed to be a lot of war talk,” he said.

The Lowy survey, which is due to be released in full later this month, found support for the US alliance among Australians is at an all-time high, with 87% saying it was important to the country’s security. At the same time, just 53% of Australians said they felt “very safe” or “safe” in the current global environment.