A recent survey found that Canadians are less in favor of trade with China, agreeing with the government’s rising criticisms of the country.
The Nanos Research Group survey for Bloomberg News discovered that 6 in 10 Canadians (or 61%) want to reduce trade with China. This is an increase from 45% in December 2020.
Only 5% of respondents were open to increased trade with China, while 24% were content with the current level. These figures are largely consistent across gender, age, and location.
Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, a China specialist at the University of Ottawa, said, “Canadians have now woken up to the fact that China is not a reliable trading partner.”
Although trade with China has not been as significant as in the U.S., the Asian country remains Canada’s second biggest partner despite sour ties. According to Reuters, China accounted for less than 7% of overall two-way commerce in September, compared to 68% for the United States.
Johnston noted that China was willing to use trade as a penalty when tensions rose. In 2018, the regime rejected Canadian exports after Canada arrested an executive for Chinese tech giant Huawei at the requar of the U.S.
The survey took place between November 27 and November 29. On November 27, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released the long-apprised Indo-Pacific strategy, which viewed China as an “increasingly disruptive global power.” This was also around the time Trudeau was vocal about China’s interference in Canada’s election, espionage attempts, and illegal police stations.
On November 7, he said, “Unfortunately, we’re seeing countries, state actors from around the world, whether it’s China or others, are continuing to play aggressive games with our institutions, with our democracies.”
The Nanos poll also saw a pessimistic public view of the Canadian government’s handling of its relations with China. Only 20% of respondents agreed Ottawa was managing Chinese relations either very well or well. This is a fall of 12 points from 2019.
The freshly introduced Indo-Pacific strategy still describes China as an important nation that Canada needs to engage on existential concerns.
In early November, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly, stated, “We will challenge China when we ought to. We will cooperate with China when we must.”