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Nearly Half of Albertans Want FTA; Majority Oppose Fully Chinese-Owned Investments but Think China’s Investment Helps

New survey numbers show that over three fifths of surveyed Albertans think that Chinese investment in Alberta in the form of full ownership is unacceptable, even as over two thirds agree that increased Chinese investment in Alberta contributes to the provincial economy and over two in five Albertans agree that the Canadian government should negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with China. The results, drawn from preliminary survey analysis by the China Institute at the University of Alberta, show that the Albertan public continues to have mixed views on Chinese investment in the province.

With regards to support for the Canadian government negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with China, there is still large room for opinions to shift even as support in the province beats out opposition, with 28% of respondents selecting the “neither” option and 44% agreeing with the idea of negotiations.

Albertans do not seem to be strongly opposed to all forms of Chinese ownership, as when it comes to partial ownership, 44% agree that it is acceptable. However, when asked whether Chinese investment in Alberta in the form of full ownership is acceptable, 21% of Albertans agree and 63% disagree, with a smaller group (16%) selecting “neither.” And when asked whether Chinese SOE investment in Alberta’s energy sector is acceptable, 55% disagree, likely reflecting a mix of concerns over both SOEs and China’s role in the energy sector.

As well, Albertans were asked whether increased Chinese investment in Alberta contributes to the provincial economy, with 70% agreeing and 11% disagreeing. Agreement, already high in 2014, has been bolstered by a 6% increase since then. This mixed perception, that Chinese investment is good for the economy but where any form of Chinese ownership receives, at best, middling support, is further complicated by opinions on whether investment from China in Alberta should be more regulated than foreign investment from elsewhere, with 42% disagreeing, a small decline by 2% since 2014.

The full results of the survey, which includes further questions on Alberta-China economic, cultural, and technological relations and additional demographic and political party affiliation data, will be published by the China Institute in the forthcoming Albertans’ Views on China: 2016 Annual China Institute Survey.

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