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Canadians’ attitudes toward Beijing have worsened since China arrested Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and blocked billions of dollars of imports of Canadian canola, soybeans, beef and pork. The detentions and the subsequent trade sanctions followed the arrest of Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou.

The Canadian Press

China’s hostage diplomacy and punishing economic sanctions against Canada have further hardened Canadians’ attitudes toward Beijing’s authoritarian government, according to a new poll.

The July Nanos Research poll, conducted for The Globe and Mail, also found that 40 per cent of Canadians surveyed believe the Trudeau government has done a very poor or poor job of managing the diplomatic dispute with China while 27 per cent say Ottawa has done an average job. One in four say the government has done a good or very good job while 7 per cent are unsure.

On Canadians’ view of Beijing, the survey shows that 90 per cent have negative or somewhat negative impressions of China’s government and its leader, President Xi Jinping.

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“Significantly both the intensity and scope of negative views are on the rise among Canadians. The brand of the Chinese government has effectively been negatively hammered,” pollster Nik Nanos said in an interview.

The survey indicates that Canadians’ attitudes toward Beijing have worsened since China arrested Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and blocked billions of dollars of imports of Canadian canola, soybeans, beef and pork. The detentions and the subsequent trade sanctions followed the arrest of Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou in early December at the request of U.S. law enforcement authorities for allegedly violating American sanctions against Iran.

“The research suggests that the perceptions Canadians have of the Government of China are on a negative spiral with less than one in 20 having a positive or somewhat positive impression of the Chinese government,” Mr. Nanos said.

By comparison, in 2018, a Nanos survey showed that 83 per cent of Canadians had a negative or somewhat negative impression of the Chinese government.

The latest hybrid telephone and online survey was conducted from July 29 to 30 with 1,000 Canadians. The results are considered to be accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Mr. Nanos also asked Canadians for their perceptions of Huawei, the giant Chinese telecom company that is lobbying the Canadian government to participate in next-generation 5G technology. The United States is pushing its Five Eyes intelligence partners – which include Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand – to ban Huawei from 5G, citing national-security concerns.

Australia has already barred Huawei from its 5G network and New Zealand blocked the first request from one of its wireless carriers to install the company’s equipment in a 5G network. Canada and Britain have yet to make a decision on whether to join the 5G ban.

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Mr. Nanos found that 52 per cent say Canada should ban Huawei from 5G telecommunications networks in Canada while 19 per cent say Ottawa should allow Huawei to sell its gear, according to the Nanos poll. Another 29 per cent are unsure.

“Canadians think the telecommunications company’s participation in the 5G network should be banned by a margin of more than two to one,” he said.

Mr. Nanos said 69 per cent of Canadians have a negative or somewhat negative impression of Huawei, whose founder, Ren Zhengfei, is the father of Ms. Meng. A former People’s Liberation Army engineer, Mr. Ren is considered by China’s government to be one of the country’s pre-eminent global business executives. Only 11 per cent of Canadians have a positive or somewhat positive impression of Huawei.

“Continued tension between the Chinese and Canadian governments has had a material negative impact on the views Canadians have of the Government of China, with Huawei also registering collateral damage,” Mr. Nanos said.

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