New Zealanders’ perceptions of China changed dramatically in the first half of 2022, and the majority now consider Asian countries as “threats.” Recent research..
According to a mini-survey conducted by the Asia-New Zealand Foundation in June, 58% of New Zealanders considered China a “threat” and a record low of 13% considered China a “friend”.
This is a significant change from a major survey conducted in November 2021 where 37% considered China a threat and 29% considered China amicable.
It was after Beijing began a move to establish military relations within the Pacific at the gateway to New Zealand, and after refusing to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine.
A mini-survey in June revealed that negative sentiment towards Russia also surged, with 79% of New Zealanders seeing Russia as a threat, compared to 45% in November. ..
Major investigations revealed that North Korea, Russia and China were listed as the three most important threats to the country before the war in Ukraine.
Despite China’s growing awareness as a threat, New Zealanders still believe that one of the two most important countries associated with Australia will develop economic ties.
Simon Draper, Executive Secretary of the Asia-New Zealand Foundation, said the relationship between New Zealand and China was taken up more prominently in public discourse and was asked about it in the investigation.
“Three-quarters of New Zealanders want New Zealand to expand trade beyond the Chinese market, with most (53%) supporting political leaders who are regularly involved with Chinese responders. “We do,” said Draper.
In addition, 63% support travel and trade sanctions against Chinese politicians for human rights abuses, and 45% oppose joint military exercises with China.
New Zealand friends
The study also found that Australia remained the closest country to New Zealand despite a slight decline in friendship, followed by other long-standing allies, the United Kingdom and Canada.
After Joe Biden took office, New Zealanders’ awareness of the United States has increased significantly, with 61% rating it as US-friendly, compared to 50% in 2020.
The percentage of people who saw the United States as a threat also dropped from 20% to 11% over the same period.
In addition, research reveals that Kiwi sees Britain as the most reliable power to act responsibly, followed by Japan.
While New Zealand maintains close ties with its traditional allies, New Zealanders increasingly believe that building strong ties with Asia is important for the country’s future.
More than 2,300 people over the age of 15 participated in the November survey, and 1,186 people participated in a mini-vote that repeated the three questions of the large-scale survey.