Canadians’ opinion of China plummets due to COVID-19

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on May 13, 2020

A new poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute has shown that China’s already low favourability among Canadians has recently taken a steep drop amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

China’s favourability has been declining for a few years now, with it being at 48% in 2017, 38% in 2018, 29% in 2019, and now only 14% in 2020, which represents the most significant decline in China’s approval in a single year in Canada.

Alberta and Manitoba have the highest unfavorability ratings in China both at 85%, B.C. and Atlantic Canada having the lowest of the disapproval ratings at 72% and 76%, respectively.

It is telling when China’s best favourability rating in Canada is still well below water.

Conservative Party of Canada supporters had the highest unfavorability rating of China at 89%, and the lowest unfavorability rating was found among Liberal Party supporters at 78%.

The recent disapproval is likely exacerbated by China’s coverup of the COVID-19 pandemic from November until January when a Chinese doctor blew the whistle on the crisis, and then also due to the continued dishonesty in infection and death statistics, the origin of COVID-19, and racism against non-Chinese residents.

85% of Canadians polled by Angus Reid said that the Chinese government has not been honest about what has been happening in their country. 

76% of Canadians believe that in regards to China, Canada should be focused more on upholding human and the rule of law, over economic opportunities.

78% of Canadians now also believe that the Chinese tech company Huawei should not be involved in building Canada’s 5G mobile networks due to concerns around cybersecurity. This is another significant increase as 69% of Canadians didn’t want Huawei included back in 2019.

On the topic of trade, only 11% of Canadians believe we should be looking to make closer trade ties to China, which is down from 22% back in May of 2019. The UK, South, and Central America, the United States, and the European Union have all risen in their approval among Canadians to make closer trade ties.

The opinion statistics on trade at least for Canadians demonstrate there seems to be an anti-China mentality that has developed since the COVID-19 pandemic started showing people want anything but the Chinese Communist regime to be involved with Canada.

Although China has not had a net-positive favorability rating in Canada since 2009, it seems that COVID-19 could severely damage its reputation among Canadians for a long time. 

The abuse of the Uyghur Muslim population, Christians, as well as the Falun Gong, and surveillance of its people is what had lead to declining popularity in the past. 

It may be less the health crisis itself Canadians are disapproving of currently, and more that year by year, the poor human rights track record and political corruption in China have been revealed, with COVID-19 just being the more significant catalyst so far.

It will be interesting to see if in another year time whether or not China will have recovered their reputation at all, or significant changes in government officials and regime behaviour will have to change before Canadians begin to see China as a positive actor on the world stage.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

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