ACCORDING to the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada’s 2020 National Opinion Poll: Canada Views on Asia, Canadians share a worsening perception of both the United States and China and recognize the need for diversifying and building alliances that extend beyond traditional partnerships. Canadians also share positive views on immigration from Asia, growing concern over anti-Asian racism, and an openness to developing deeper relations with India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the economies of ASEAN, while also standing up to China as “our key national values are on the line.”
In addition to posing new questions on topical issues, particularly around COVID-19 and Sino-Canadian relations, this year’s NOP continues to track legacy questions from the past 16 years on Canada’s Asia Pacific identity, the warmth of feelings toward Asia, the perceived economic importance of Asia for the future of Canada, support for free trade agreements, and provincial policies to foster better relations with Asian counterparts.
“Given the current global geopolitical climate and the devastating impacts of the pandemic, it is perhaps not surprising to find Canadians’ perceptions of China and the United States at historic lows,” said APF Canada President and CEO, Stewart Beck. “But what is encouraging is that Canadians recognize the growing importance of wider Asia to our country’s future economic success. They are keen for their governments to explore new partnerships, engage more vigorously in multilateralism and areas of mutual benefit like public health, climate change, and cybersecurity, and to encourage investment from Asia that would benefit this country.”
“The results of our 2020 National Opinion Poll come at a critical time for Canada-Asia relations,” added Beck. “Canadians clearly hold the view that Canada must move forward in Asia, but in a way that upholds our core values, respects human rights and sustainability, and provides economic benefits to all Canadians.”
Highlights of the 2020 NOP: Canadian views on Asia include:
- 38% of respondents consider Canada a part of the Asia Pacific region, a five-percentage-point drop from 2018.
- 78% said that their perception of the U.S. has worsened due to COVID-19, and 55% for China.
- 35% of respondents agree that China’s growing economic power is more of an opportunity than a threat, down from a 60% high in 2018.
- 83% feel that Canada should stand up to China as Canadian national values such as the rule of law, human rights, and democracy are on the line.
- 58% of Canadians think that the export of goods and services to Asia offers more of an opportunity than interprovincial trade.
- Canadians support their government going forward on an FTA with India (63%) and the Pacific Alliance (76%); 68% also support entering into an FTA with ASEAN countries, a five-per-cent increase since 2018.
- 68% of respondents support Taiwan joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
- 56% of respondents felt that Canada’s topmost priority should be to align itself more closely with other like-minded democracies like Australia, Japan, South Korea, the EU, and the U.K.; 53% ranked alignment with the United States as the fourth and last priority for the Canadian government.
- Most Canadians feel cybersecurity issues (67%), environmental and climate change (63%), and public health issues (54%) are “very critical” areas of engagement with Asian economies.
- 78% feel immigration from Asia positively impacts the Canadian economy, and 64% feel that immigrants from Asia integrate well into Canadian society.
- 72% of Canadians believe immigrants should not be discouraged from maintaining their cultural identities, but newcomers should adopt core Canadian values, such as equality, democracy, and respect for minority rights.
- 53% of respondents think Canadians of East Asian origin have been negatively treated since the COVID-19 outbreak, and 84% believe that anti-Asian racism existed in Canada before the pandemic.
- 78% of Canadians think the authorities need to implement policies that address racial crime as punishable offences.
- 60% or more Canadians support policies that would allow for added focus on Asia in the school curriculum and more funding for exchange and co-op programs for Canadian students to gain experience in Asia.
- 52% of Canadians support further investment from Asian countries in their provinces, while 39% oppose it.
The full poll results are available at www.asiapacific.ca