Trust in China among Australians has more than halved amid diplomatic and trade disputes, with only 23% saying they trusted Beijing to act responsibly in the world compared to a 52% reading two years ago, a major poll has found, Kirsty Needham reported for Reuters on June 24, 2020.

The annual Lowy Institute Poll also found rising support for Australia’s security alliance with the United States, up six points to 78% this year, even though US President Donald Trump was unpopular with Australians.

“Trust in our largest trading partner - China - has declined precipitously. Confidence in China’s leader Xi Jinping, has fallen even further,” wrote Lowy Institute executive director Michael Fullilove.

In total, 94% of respondents thought the Australian government should work to reduce its economic reliance on China by diversifying its trade. Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Australians were less trusting of most countries around the world, and only half of Australians said they felt safe. Diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Canberra have worsened since Australia called for an international inquiry into the source and spread of the new coronavirus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan. China has banned some Australian beef imports and imposed tariffs on Australian barley. It has also urged Chinese students and tourists to avoid Australia.