Singaporeans hold largely positive views of China: poll

·Assistant News Editor
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Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China  April 29, 2019. Madoka Ikegami/Pool via REUTERS
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with China's President Xi Jinping before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 29 April 2019. (PHOTO: Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Amid consistently negative global perceptions of China, a new international poll says Singaporeans are outliers in holding largely positive views of the emerging superpower. 

According to the Pew Research Centre's Spring 2021 Global Attitudes Survey, Singapore is one of only two countries – alongside Greece – among 17 advanced economies polled to have a majority of respondents holding a favourable view of China.

About 64 per cent of respondents in Singapore saw China in a positive light, while slightly over half saw the United States in the same way. Almost half saw more value in maintaining close economic ties with China than to the US, while 33 per cent preferred to hold close ties with the latter. 

Alongside most of the countries polled – with the exception of Japan – 76 per cent of Singaporeans rated China's handling of the pandemic above that of the US.

Meanwhile, Singaporean respondents held Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden in an equally positive light. In response to separate queries, 70 per cent said they had confidence in both Xi and Biden to do the right thing in world affairs. 

The results were drawn from nationally representative surveys conducted among 18,850 people from 1 February to 26 May this year. It is the first time that Singaporeans have been included in the regular survey.

Some 1,124 Singaporeans were polled over the phone.

Rebounding positive views of the United States

According to the Pew Research Centre's Laura Silver, "Confidence in the US president has shot up precipitously since Joe Biden took office, while confidence in President Xi Jinping remains unchanged and near historic lows."

Large majorities in most of the advanced economies surveyed have broadly negative views of China – including around three-quarters or more who say this in Japan (88 per cent), Sweden (80 per cent), Australia (78 per cent), South Korea (77 per cent) and the US (76 per cent). 

"In many places, these unfavourable views are at or near historic highs, though they are largely unchanged since last year," said Silver.

The poll also found that around half or more in almost every place surveyed say it is more important for their nation to have strong economic ties with the US than with China. The only exceptions are Singapore and New Zealand.

"Notably, this preference comes despite the fact that as of 2020, more people name China over the US as the world’s leading economic power, particularly in Europe," said Silver. 

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