OTTAWA — Only 29 per cent of Canadians view China favourably and more than half worry about possible Chinese cyberattacks, according to a poll released on Monday at a time when the two nations remain locked in a diplomatic dispute.
The University of British Columbia survey also found half of Canadians did not want Huawei Technologies to play a major role supplying next-generation 5G network equipment.
Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have been frozen since Canadian police detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou last December on a U.S. arrest warrant.
“The chill is real,” the survey concluded. China is now viewed favourably by 29 per cent of Canadians, down from 36 per cent two years ago, but up from 22 per cent in February, the findings concluded.
That said, respondents wanted commercial exchanges with China to continue, with 62 per cent supporting the negotiation of a bilateral free trade agreement.
In the wake of Meng’s arrest, China blocked imports of Canadian meat products and canola seed. It also arrested two Canadians on state secrets charges.
“Worries about China’s domestic impact in Canada are increasing, especially about cyberattacks and espionage,” the survey said.
The Chinese embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment.
The online survey of 1,503 Canadian adults — the fourth conducted by the university over the past two years into attitudes towards China — was carried out between Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, 2019, and is considered to have a margin of error of 3 per cent.
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