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New Abacus Study on Canada-China Relationship

According to Abacus Data’s recently released survey on Canadians’ views of Canada’s relationship with China, 38% of Canadians surveyed would like to see an increase in investment from China into Canada in the next 10-20 years, while 25% would like to see a decrease in investment. The survey, commissioned by resource development and exporter Teck Resources, also found that 53% of respondents believed that Canadian sovereignty is put at risk when China invests in Canada. Abacus reports that Canadians are divided on free trade with China, with 50% saying free trade with China would be good for Canada’s economy, and 50% saying it would be harmful.

Support for Chinese investment in various Canadian sectors ranged from 28% support in the wireless sector to 16% in the pipeline sector. Opposition by sector ranged from as high as 41% in both the newspaper and pipeline sectors to as low as 31% in both the wireless and biotechnology sectors. However, the results shifted if “invest” was phrased as “buy a controlling interest,” with support ranging from just 21% in the wireless sector to as low as 12% in both the pipeline and coal mining sectors. Opposition to “controlling interest” by China also increased dramatically, with opposition as high as 55% for both the natural gas and pipeline sectors and still 39% in biotechnology, the sector with the lowest opposition.

Regardless of the sector and type of ownership, a plurality of respondents were those who are “willing to support [Chinese investment/control] with conditions”: in the case of Chinese investment into natural gas, 47% support Chinese investment if conditions are attached. These are the Canadians that government policies may target if seeking to build support for Chinese investment in Canada.

For comparison, in the December release of the China Institute at the University of Alberta’s “Albertans’ Views on China: 2015 Annual China Institute Survey”, 43% of Albertans surveyed felt that Alberta should welcome Chinese investment in the province, while 30% disagreed. The province was also similarly accepting of Chinese investment in energy and other resource sectors in the province, with 42% in favour and 31% opposed. Calgarians were the most welcoming of Chinese investment into Alberta generally, as well as into Alberta’s resource sectors specifically, while non-metropolitan Albertans were the least supportive of Chinese investment in general, and Edmontonians the least supportive of Chinese investment in resources.

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