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Canadians growing more supportive of deeper trade ties with China: Study

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-10-26 14:13

VANCOUVER — Canadians are growing increasingly supportive of deeper economic ties with China, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia (UBC).

The Canadian support for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China is increasing, the findings of the study entitled Pragmatism amidst Anxiety: Canadians Opinions of Canada-China Relations from UBC's School of Public Policy and Global Affairs revealed.

The report surveyed 1,519 Canadian adults between Aug 30 and Sept 12,and was adjusted to match Canada's latest census data on age, gender and region. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

The authors, led by professors Paul Evans and Xiaojun Li, found that 69 percent of respondents strongly or moderately support FTA negotiations with China.

That support has risen sharply since the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada's national opinion polls in which the support levels were 45 percent in 2013 and 26 percent in 2014.

Of the respondents in the survey, 19 percent opposed an FTA with China, while 12 percent were undecided.

The findings also discovered that 36 percent of respondents believed that Chinese investment in Canada had a positive impact on their views of China. Twenty-three percent viewed Chinese investment as having a negative impact, while 41 percent saw it as neither negative or positive.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said they believe China would be the greatest economic power in the world within the next decade.

Evans, the co-author of the report, said the findings arrive as China increases its influence as a major global power.

"China is becoming a global player and is on Canadian doorsteps in a new way," Evans told Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday.

There is a general assumption here that the Canadian public is negative about China and this has impeded the broader engagement by the Canadian government in China, he said.

"The Canadian public is more pragmatic than we'd anticipated before we went into the survey," he said.

Canadians' support for deeper trade ties with China "points to anxiety about the United States - not just in our bilateral trade issues - but in the broader American role in the world," he said.

Many Canadians now feel China is the more responsible actor in world relations than the United States, Evans said. "That's a pretty significant discovery."

Evans said Canadian stakeholders should see China as an important partner across many issues, including terrorism and climate change.

"There are some bigger shifts globally where we're going to start new connections with China because we have common problems," he said. "The world order is shifting around us."

"This is not a love affair with China (by Canadians)," Evans said. "This is a desire for partnership with China."

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