Australians See China as Best Friend in Asia

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Melbourne:  Though Australians regard China as a great military threat they still view the communist giant as their 'best friend in Asia' with only five per cent regarding India as a close ally, a new survey said today.

The survey is topped by China with 31 per cent, followed by Japan (28 per cent), Singapore (12 per cent), Indonesia (9 per cent) and India (5 per cent).

The new findings, released in the Tenth Lowy Institute poll 2014, found that China had as much of claim to the title of 'best friend' as Japan.

According to the survey, Australians have mixed feelings towards China as the best friend and a great military threat. The nation-wide survey of over 1000 adults asked respondents to choose between Japan, China, Indonesia, India, Singapore and South Korea and 31 per cent favoured China.

However, in the 'feelings thermometer' segment which measured participants' feelings towards 21 countries, New Zealand emerged as the most warmly regarded at 84 degree.

Australians had much warmer feelings towards China, Spain and Fiji as compared to India which registered a fall at 57 degrees from 62 degrees recorded in 2006.Despite feelings towards China warming by six degrees to 60 degrees, one key finding was the perception of the military threat posed by it, which has heightened this year.

"In the view of almost half the Australian population (48 per cent), it is likely that China will become a military threat to Australia in the next 20 years, a significant increase of seven points from last year. Age and gender make little difference in Australians' perceptions of this threat," the survey said.

The survey also reported that almost 76 per cent of Australians believed the best target population for the country in the next 40 years was 30 million people or more.


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