Research Shows Impact of Fearmongering: Australians more Frightened of China than Taiwanese

New research from the Australia Institute’s International & Security Affairs Program on Australian and Taiwanese views regarding China reveal a large and growing degree of fear of China and the prospect of war.

The research reveals more Australians think that China will attack Australia than Taiwanese believe China will attack Taiwan.

Australian and Taiwanese men are significantly more confident that they could defend against China than are Australian and Taiwanese women, but both genders in both countries are equally matched when it comes to the prospect of defeat – around 60 percent. An overwhelming majority of both Australian and Taiwanese say its would be in their country’s interests for China and the US to work together towards peace.

Key points

  • Between 13 and 16 August 2022 the Australia Institute commissioned two surveys of 1,003 adults living in Australia, and 1,002 adults living in Taiwan, respectively.
  • There are more Australians who think China will invade Australia “soon” than there are Taiwanese who think China will invade Taiwan “soon”.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 Australians think China will attack Australia soon, while just 1 in 20 Taiwanese think that China will attack Australia soon.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 Australians think that China will attack Taiwan soon, while just 1 in 20 Taiwanese think that China will attack Taiwan soon.
  • More Australians than Taiwanese regard China as aggressive (85% vs 80%).
  • Almost twice as many Australian men (49%) as women (26%) think that the Australian people are prepared to go to war if China threatened military action against Australia.
  • Four in five Australians and one in two Taiwanese say it would be in their country’s interests for China and the US to work together towards peace.

“The more that the anti-China lobby beats the drums of war, the more afraid of China Australians become,” said Allan Behm, Director of the Australia Institute’s International & Security Affairs program and former senior Foreign Affairs, Attorney General’s and Defence official.

“This research indicates that the rhetoric on China and the fearmongering around the a risk of war has had an impact on public opinion. It is astonishing that Australians are more afraid of an attack from China than the Taiwanese are.

“The results show popular opinion is detached from geopolitical and geostrategic reality. The results support the case for a reset in the Australia-China relationship and the manner in which we hold this important national conversation. Such a reset should be based on facts and the national interest rather than the fear peddling we saw in the recent Australian federal election by some for domestic, partisan interests.

“Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong, has begun the important task of recalibrating the Australia-China relationship and that should be welcomed. She is able to do that without sacrificing our important commitments to human rights, regional security and the national interest.”

The Australia Institute is an accredited member of the Australian Polling Council with polling methodology available in attached polling brief.

Related research

General Enquiries

Tanya Martin Executive Assistant

02 6130 0530

mail@australiainstitute.org.au

Media Enquiries

Jake Wishart Senior Media Adviser

0413 208 134

jake@australiainstitute.org.au

RSS Feed

Media Releases