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Poll: China’s neighbors worried about PRC’s military, economic might

Agence France-Presse

China’s neighbors feel threatened by the country’s overseas investments and military might, even though people in many countries around the world view the Asian power’s economic growth positively, a December 2019 poll showed .

While just over half of people in Japan agreed that China’s economic growth was a good thing, a huge 75% perceived investment from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in their country negatively, a survey by Washington-based Pew Research Center found.

Responses in Australia, the Philippines and South Korea followed a similar pattern, according to the survey of more than 38,000 people across 34 countries.

Overall, 79% of people polled across the Indo-Pacific region said they are alarmed by the PRC’s growing military strength, with as many as nine in 10 in Japan and South Korea feeling this way, Pew researchers said. (Pictured: China’s DF-41 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles are seen during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on October 1, 2019, to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.)

China — the world’s second-largest economy — has adopted a more bullish approach to foreign relations under President Xi Jinping.

The PRC has built military installations and sent survey ships into disputed territory in the fiercely contested South China Sea, where several countries have competing claims.

At the same time, the PRC has extended its economic influence around the world through overseas investments, loans and aid to developing countries.

People in emerging markets tended to view China’s economic growth more positively than those in developed countries, the survey also found.

The PRC’s dependability as an ally was viewed most positively in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, with 30%, 22% and 19% of people in these countries respectively naming China as a top ally — although even these countries showed a stronger preference for the U.S.

Meanwhile, in the Indo-Pacific region, more see China as the biggest threat, including half of Japanese and 62% of Filipinos.

“Majorities in most nations also say both the U.S. and China have a great deal or a fair amount of influence on their country’s economic conditions,” Pew’s report said.

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