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Three in four Canadians negatively view China as trading partner: survey

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As the diplomatic conflict between Canada and China escalates, new data reveals that three in four Canadians view the Chinese government negatively.

A recent survey, conducted by Nanos Research, asked Canadians how they view a list of countries -- including Germany, the U.K., the U.S., Mexico, France and China -- and whether each one would stand as a valuable trading partner to Canada.

While more than eight in 10 Canadians say they have a positive or somewhat positive opinion of the United Kingdom, deeming it a valuable partner, alongside Germany, the U.S, France, and Mexico (in that order), the results found three in four Canadians have a negative or somewhat negative opinion of China.

“It speaks to how strained the relationship is between Canada and China,” said Nik Nanos, CTV News pollster and chairman of Nanos Research, in Wednesday’s episode of CTV News Trend Line.

“This is more than an issue for diplomats now.”

On Monday, Canada expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei following the release of an intelligence report accusing him of targeting a Canadian lawmaker critical of China’s human rights violations towards the country’s Uyghur Muslim minority population. On Tuesday, in what has been called a tit-for-tat retaliation, China expelled a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai.

The conflict has tightened an already tense relationship between China and Canada.

Following China’s diplomatic expulsion on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa that Canada “will not be intimidated.”

Considering allegations of Chinese interference, Nanos says that other countries prioritize transparency with diplomat activity.

“Countries like the [U.S.], the [U.K.]. Germany, Japan, all engage in activities that advance their interests, many of them transparently through diplomats,” he said. “They support educational exchange with Canadian universities, they fund research at Canadian universities transparently, they hire lobbyists transparently to help them with staff. The issue with China is that their approach to influence just might be a little different than we see for a lot of other countries.”

The reason China scores the lowest opinion, Nanos believes, is because its approach to advancing its own interests appears “unsavoury” to some.

Nanos Research poll on Canadian perception of Chinese government

“Every Canadian government has to walk this tightrope in terms of trade with China because they are an incredibly huge economy,” he explained, citing the tug-of-war of trade potential and potential human rights violations.

“[Our relationship with China] will always feel like a huge political risk for us.”

Watch the full episode of Trend Line in our video player at the top of this article. You can also listen in our audio player below, or wherever you get your podcasts. The next episode comes out Wednesday, May 24.

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