National Flag of Canada. Paul Giamou / Aurora / Getty Images

Canadian public opinion about China is cratering with over 80 per cent supporting a boycott of items manufactured in the Asian nation.

According to a new poll from the agency Angus Reid Institute or ARI, 81 per cent of those surveyed “feel that they should boycott goods made in China to send a message”. The pollster said that this may be a challenge because of the sheer volume of goods manufactured in China that is purchased by Canadians. Also, over 90 per cent of those polled believe “the tension between the two countries is ‘serious’.”

That growing disenchantment with China comes as two Canadians, including a former diplomat, remain imprisoned there on charges of spying. The Canadian government has described that as “arbitrary detention” and accused China of resorting to “hostage diplomacy” in an effort to swap them for the CFO of Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, who was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018 and is facing trial there in a case related to allegedly defrauding a bank to bypass sanctions against the Iranian regime.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already rebuffed the idea of such an exchange, an idea that was propagated by a group of 19 eminent personalities, including four former ministers, in a letter sent to him recently.

Trudeau’s stand finds favour in the poll, as ARI said a majority of Canadians are “supportive of the federal government’s position” of letting the case against Meng Wanzhou, which could lead to her extradition to the United States, play out in the court. Nearly three-fourth of the respondents, or 72 per cent, supported Trudeau’s stance. And that sentiment is prevalent across “generational lines, gender, and political partisanship”.

This makes for a “remarkably consistent” approach with political partisanship which is “often a source of significant division” not being a factor, “as majorities who voted for each of the main political parties in the 2019 election are on the same side of this debate,” ARI noted.

However, despite being supportive in this instance, there is scepticism over how Trudeau and his government have dealt with China, with only 37 per cent agreeing that it has handled these recent events “well”, while 50 per cent disagreed.

As many as 91 per cent considered the state of affairs between the two nations “serious”, while a similar number, 93 per cent, felt that “China cannot be trusted to uphold human rights”.


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