Canadians, who have a “friendly” impression internationally, have a sharply negative view of China, and the number of people who regard China as an “enemy” greatly exceeds the number of people who have a favorable impression of China.
That’s one of the key shifts in opinion found in the latest poll released Friday by the nonpartisan Angus Reid Institute. The poll was conducted in late February with 1,622 Canadian citizens participating.
According to the poll, 40 percent of respondents said the Canadian federal government should view the Chinese government as a threat to Canadian interests, while 22 percent considered Beijing an enemy of Canada. The two figures add up to 62%, well over half. Only 12% of the respondents held a positive view of China.
Canada has a special relationship with China. When China was invaded by Japanese militarists, Canada provided assistance to the government of the Republic of China. Norman Bethune, a well-known Canadian surgeon, once went to the Eighth Route Army led by the Communist Party of China to treat the wounded, and later died of an infection in China due to an operation infection.
The late leader of the Communist Party of China, Mao Zedong, once wrote an article “In memory of Bethune”, calling Bethune an outstanding international communist fighter, calling on the Chinese people to learn from him and commemorate him. Many Chinese can recite this article, and Canada has become one of the most familiar foreign country names to many Chinese along with Bethune’s name. It can be said that without Bethune, Canada’s popularity in China would be much lower.
After China opened its doors to reform and opening up in the 1980s, the relationship between China and Canada has been quite friendly until December 1, 2018, when Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of the Chinese technology company Huawei, was arrested in Canada. Xi Jinping believes that Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou is acting as a “running dog” of the United States, so he personally ordered the arrest of two Canadian citizens as hostages to force Canada to release Meng Wanzhou.
The United States determined that Meng Wanzhou participated in the resale of American technology products to Iran, which was sanctioned by the United States, in violation of the sanctions, so it asked Canada to arrest and extradite Meng Wanzhou in accordance with the bilateral extradition treaty. China, Canada, and the United States engaged in fierce competition in the extradition or release of Meng Wanzhou. The Canadian public also saw the cruel and oppressive side of Xi Jinping’s regime during this process, prompting their views on China to turn negative.
Two recent incidents further worsened the Canadian public’s impression of China. One is that Chinese spy balloons invaded the airspace of Canada and the United States, and the other is that Canadian media reported in detail that Chinese officials made two donations to Canadian elections and interfered in Canadian elections. Both incidents made the Canadian public see clearly the threat posed to Canada by China’s authoritarian government.
The poll also found that after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, Canadians have a more negative attitude towards Russia. A whopping 72% of Canadian citizens believe that Russia should be considered a threat or an enemy country.
However, Canadians’ perceptions of the United States, Taiwan, and India are changing for the better. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they had a positive view of the U.S., again the high percentage reached in 2016.
According to the survey, although 39% of respondents’ evaluation of the United States is changing negatively, as many as 73% of Canadian respondents believe that the United States should be regarded as a friend, if not a valuable ally.
Although the relationship between Taiwan and mainland China is tense, as many as 62% of the respondents said they have a good impression of Taiwan.
According to the poll report, the majority of respondents have a favorable view of India, with 42% of the respondents saying that they think they should be friendly to India, and 10% of the respondents think that India should Consider a valued partner and ally.