A far reaching new opinion poll has shown that most Australians would prefer long term trading ties with China over the US. The survey, conducted by the University of Sydney, covered several Asia-Pacific nations and found that Australians were the least enthusiastic towards a large US presence with regard to trade in the region.
New York, NY, USA, July 15, 2016 — Significantly more Australians (75%) see China and the U.S. as “trading competitors” than even the Chinese that were surveyed (45%), though the data also revealed a surprising absence of political knowledge in Australian citizens, 44% of whom didn’t know that the US and Japan are trading allies in the form of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This ignorance was identical in the Chinese poll.
Regionally the survey of 3,850 citizens in each of the five nations reflected that China would be the most dominant trading nation in Asia by 2027, with 70% of Australians saying that situation was already apparent. In comparison only 57% of Chinese thought their own nation was on top of the pile.
A couple of nations were more sceptical of that prospect, especially the Japanese, 77% of whom said China are behind the US in the number two spot.
Japanese also saw China’s role in the region as negative, with 60% espousing that view. Only 8% of Australians felt the same way, and many thought the US was more negative.
As far as a positive US role in Asia, only Japan and South Korea backed the number one world economy.
Australians were divided most on whether the nation should solidify trading ties with the US, with a 5% negative-positive score, while the rest of the countries had overwhelming majorities for working on US relations with South Korea (44%), China (49%), Indonesia (39%) and Japan (30%) leading the way.
Given the historical tensions between Japan and China, it was not surprising that Japanese surveyed were divided on whether to bolster trading ties with China with only a 7% majority in favour, compared to 54% in South Korea, 45% in Indonesia and 32% in Australia.
Stuart Poulson, Head of Corporate trading at Nikko-Desjardins Asset Management attempted to summarize the data.
“Australians for the most part still think that the US is a declining trading power in the Asia-Pacific region,” Poulsen said in a phone interview. “Most Aussies seem pretty benevolent towards the China v US rivalry.”
He also remarked that the survey would “solidify many Americans fears that Australian support for a trading partnership with the US was waning,” and that “Australians are by no means expected to take political sides with Japan over China.”
Nikko-Desjardins Asset Management