China’s support for Russia in its war against Ukraine is having a dramatic—and negative—impact on Europeans’ views of the Communist country, according to a poll published Wednesday.
China’s partnership with Russia has fueled a shift in public opinion, with a majority of those polled across 13 European countries saying their attitude toward the CCP has worsened during the past year as a result of this relationship. Of the 34 percent of those polled who said they have an unfavorable view of the Communist country, 66 percent attributed that position to the growing Beijing-Moscow alliance.
The poll, conducted by the International Republican Institute’s Center for Insights in Survey Research, shows China’s credibility is declining, particularly among nations that have historically enjoyed open relations with the Communist regime, such as Austria, Poland, and Croatia. China’s "partnership with and support for Russia" fueled opposition among 66 percent of respondents, while another 50 percent said Beijing’s major human rights crimes contributed to their dimming views.
China’s relationship with Russia is well-known among those polled, with 88 saying they had knowledge of the issue and 40 percent saying, "China supports or enables the invasion of Ukraine." The war in Ukraine has killed more than 7,000 civilians, injured more than 11,000, and galvanized the international community against Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Among those polled, just 33 percent said they had a highly or somewhat favorable view of China. Sixty-one percent of respondents said their view of China is somewhat or highly unfavorable.
The poll, conducted from July through August of last year, sampled 14,461 individuals across 13 major European nations, including Austria, Poland, Greece, Italy, Hungry, and several other Eastern European nations formerly part of the Soviet Union. The findings show that among the nations located closest to Russia, public support for China is eroding.
For Russia, the numbers are even more dire: Just 16 percent said they have a highly or somewhat favorable view of Moscow, while 78 percent said their view is somewhat or highly unfavorable.
Just 6 percent of respondents said their view of Russia improved over the past year, while 9 percent answered the same way for China. Thirty-four percent said their view of China worsened, while 69 percent answered the same way for Russia. A sizable portion also said their view of China and Russia remained about the same.
China’s efforts to gain control over Taiwan are also becoming more well known among Europeans. Eighty-one percent of those polled said they are aware of the issue, which threatens to drag the United States and allies into a major war to protect the small island.
In related findings, 80 percent of those polled said it is important for their country to support human rights abroad. China’s abysmal human rights record, for instance, which includes waging a genocide against the Uyghur ethnic minority, contributed in large part to its diminishing public image, with 50 percent of those polled saying human rights issues worsened their view of Beijing.
Another 39 percent said China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which is widely believed to have originated in the Communist country, contributed to their unfavorable views.
However, the coronavirus is becoming less of a concern overall. Just 13 percent of those polled listed COVID as one of the "most important problems" facing their country. The cost of living and high prices is the most pressing issue, with 57 percent listing it as a top concern.
The United States fared relatively well in the survey, with 58 percent saying they have a generally favorable view toward America.