Home General News Three in four Australians now see China as a military threat as confidence hits rock bottom, Lowy poll shows

Three in four Australians now see China as a military threat as confidence hits rock bottom, Lowy poll shows

by Margaret N. Bryan

Most Australians polled in a new poll now look to Australia, with confidence in China and confidence in its president Xi Jinping at record lows. The Lowy Institute’s 2022 poll, released Tuesday night, indicated growing concerns about the foreign policy of both Russia and China, along with a possible war over Taiwan. “There is a growing awareness of the countries in our region that are democracies, and there is a growing awareness of authoritarian states,” said Natasha Kassam, poll director of the Lowy Institute.

“Australians remain positive about globalization and free trade, and far fewer see COVID-19 as a threat in 2022.”

Australians now see China as a military threat

Confidence in China at a record high

Three-quarters of respondents they answered that it is “very” or “somewhat” likely that China will become a military threat to Australia in the next 20 years, up 30 points since 2018. In a 40-point drop since 2018, 12 percent of respondents said they trust China.

And most Australians (65 percent) view China’s foreign policy as a “critical threat” for the next decade – 29 points more than in 2017.

States and China over Taiwan poses a “critical threat”. Only 11 percent of those polled said they have a lot or some confidence in President Xi Jinping to do the right thing in world affairs. This figure has halved since 2020 (22 percent) and is down 32 points since 2018 (43%).

For the first time, a majority of Australians (51 percent) say they would support using the Australian military if China invaded Taiwan and the United States intervened.


The data also showed that 88 percent of Australians are “very” or “somewhat” concerned that China may open a military base in a Pacific country.

‘Almost all Australians concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine

According to the data, Australian views on Russia plummeted after the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Russia’s foreign policy was the most perceived threat recorded by respondents, with 68 percent saying they thought it was a “critical threat”. to Australia’s vital interests in the next ten years.

Just 5 percent of respondents said they trusted Russia “somewhat” or “a lot” to act responsibly, representing a 21-point drop from 2021 and making Russia the least trusted country by Australians.

Six percent of Australians have “a lot” or “some” confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin to do the right thing in world affairs. Source: Getty/Getty Images/TASS

Regarding world leaders, the report said that 6 percent of Australians have “a lot” or “some” trust in Russian President Vladimir Putin to do the right thing in the world, down 10 points since 2021.

Climate change is still considered a critical threat.

Most Australians continue to see climate change as a critical threat and support more ambitious targets, along with the introduction of an emissions trading scheme or carbon tax. The majority of respondents (60 percent) agreed that global warming is a “serious and urgent problem” which Australia “should take action now”, even if it involves high costs.

However, 10 percent said Australia should not take steps that entail economic costs “until we know for sure that global warming is a real problem”.


The vast majority of respondents (90 percent) said they support federal government subsidies for renewable energy technology, and 77 percent favor a more ambitious 2030 emissions target.

Are Australians still concerned about COVID-19?

While Australia currently registers thousands of COVID-19 cases, far fewer people see the virus as a critical threat in 2022.

The perceived threat from COVID-19 (and other potential epidemics) continued downward, with only 42 percent believing they posed a critical threat to Australia’s vital interests over the next ten years.


More Australians now support immigration and openness, according to the report, with 46 percent saying the number of immigrants allowed to enter Australia should be “about the same as pre-COVID levels”. More than one in five (22 percent) said the number should be lower than pre-pandemic levels, and 21 percent said it should be higher. This marks a 17-point drop from 2021 and is 34 points lower than the 2020 result of 76 percent at the pandemic’s start.

The poll surveyed 2,006 Australian adults between March 15 and 28 this year and was randomly recruited via their landline, mobile phone, or address, with a 2.2 percent margin of error.

Regional Security Issues

Foreign Minister Penny Wong met her Malaysian counterpart in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah expressed continued concern over Australia’s AUKUS deal to acquire nuclear submarine technology. Discussion” on the agreement between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, leaving the country’s view on the security pact unchanged. “We want the South China Sea in particular and the region as a whole as a region of peace, preserve trade and prosperity,” he told reporters. “We have just had a very frank discussion about AUKUS, and I thank the Foreign Minister [Penny Wong] for explaining the government’s position.

“Malaysia’s position remains the same. I have reported it to the Foreign Minister.”

Foreign Minister Penny Wong, left, speaks at a press conference after meeting Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah during a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Source: AP / Vincent Thian/AP

Senator Wong said she appreciated the opportunity “to explain how we see AUKUS” [ Mr. Saifuddin] and to other colleagues during recent visits to Vietnam and Indonesia.” Saiffudin and Indonesia’s foreign ministry have previously expressed concerns that the deal could contribute to an arms race in the region. Senator Wong said the new Labor government had pledged to continue with the new submarines, but Australia would not become a nuclear power. “There are nuclear powers in this region, but Australia is not one of them,” she said.

“Australia will always operate on the basis that we have this goal: a region that is peaceful, a region that is stable, a region that is prosperous, a region that respects sovereignty.”

Nuclear submarines in 2030 ‘optimistic.’

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Richard Marles said that a proposed timeline to acquire nuclear submarine technology for Australia by 2030 is “optimistic to the extreme”. “We’ll look at every available option to try and bring that time frame forward. I think it would be extremely optimistic taboutttakingit to eight years,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday. But by March next year, Mr. Marles said he expects to know when the submarines secured by the former Morrison government under the AUKUS partnership will be operational. “What was left to us by the former government was a real mess in this area, and the solution to that mess is to answer every one of those questions,” he said.

“We need to look at options to bring all that forward… [and] how we can get that sub into service sooner rather than later.”

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles. Source: AAP / James Ross

Part of the review includes bringing forward the time frame that submarines can be delivered and as a result, what capacity gaps would arise. Defense leaders have previously told government officials the goal is to have at least one nuclear-powered submarine in the water by 2040 and expected in March 2023. But the chances of Australia having a nuclear-powered sub in operation as early as 2030 remained unlikely. Mr. Marles also defended his decision to extend General Angus Campbell’s term for another two years, despite criticism of the defense chief’s ability to deliver its capabilities. What we’re dealing with now was the former government,” he said.

With AAP.

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