Overall, would you say Australian media reporting about China is:

This question was asked in 2021.

Too positive 10Fair and balanced 61Too negative 26Don’t know 3

This survey was fielded in a separate Lowy Institute nationwide poll in November 2020, see 2021 Methodology.

  • Too positive
  • Fair and balanced
  • Too negative
  • Don’t know
  • Refused
All groups


As Australia’s relationship with China has declined, public opinion towards China has fallen sharply. In recent years, Australians have increasingly viewed China’s economic growth as a negative, while they have historically been concerned about China’s human rights record and military.

Trust, warmth and confidence in China and China’s leader started to decline in 2017, and continue to remain at record lows in 2022. In 2022, a substantial number of Australians are concerned about China becoming a military threat to Australia. Setting a new record by some margin, three-quarters of Australians (75%) say it is very or somewhat likely that China will become a military threat to Australia in the next 20 years, an increase of 29 points since 2018.

In February 2022, the leaders of Russia and China held a high-level summit, prior to Russia invading Ukraine. Most Australians (87%) say they are concerned about China–Russia cooperation, with a majority (56%) saying they are ‘very concerned’ about the relationship between the two countries.

Most Australians continue to hold very low levels of trust in China, with 12% saying they trust China somewhat or a great deal, a 40-point decrease since 2018. Only 11% of Australians say they have a lot or some confidence in President Xi Jinping to do the right thing regarding world affairs. This figure has halved since 2020 (22%) and has fallen by 32 points since 2018 (43%).

As well as a military threat, many Australians see China as a security threat. In 2022, two-thirds of Australians (63%) say China is ‘more of a security threat’ to Australia, while 33% say China is ‘more of an economic partner’ to Australia. Both of these figures have not changed since 2021.

As Australians are increasingly concerned about potential conflict in the region, a bare majority (51%) say that Australia should remain neutral in the event of a military conflict between China and the United States. This figure has fallen six points since 2021. Almost half (46%) say Australia should support the United States in such a conflict, a five-point increase from last year. Only 1% say Australia should support China.

As in 2021, there is a generational difference on this question. More than half the population aged over 45 (55%) say Australia should support the United States, while only 36% of Australians aged 18–44 agree with that approach. Younger Australians are more likely to say Australia should remain neutral, with six in ten Australians aged 18–44 (60%) choosing this position. Only 43% of Australians aged 45 and over prefer neutrality.

As Australians increasingly express concern about a potential conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan, a slim majority of Australians (51%) would favour using the Australian military ‘if China invaded Taiwan and the United States decided to intervene’. This marks an eight-point increase since the question was last asked in 2019.


Compare different demographics, years, categories, and responses.



Share this page