Australians are more worried about being attacked by China than people in Taiwan

One in 10 Australians believe China will attack their country, which is double the number of people in Taiwan who fear a similar offensive, according to the Australia Institute.

Aug 22, 2022, updated Aug 22, 2022
China's aircraft carrier the Liaoning (front), sails with other ships during a drill. (AFP/Getty Images)

China's aircraft carrier the Liaoning (front), sails with other ships during a drill. (AFP/Getty Images)

The institute’s International and Security Affairs Program also found almost one in four Australians believe Beijing will launch an attack on Taiwan in the near future, compared with just one in 20 of the island’s people.

And about 70 per cent from both Australia and Taiwan think the island should become an independent state if it can maintain peaceful relations with the Chinese government.

The research reveals an increasing fear of Beijing and the possibility of war.

During heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait following US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island this month, the Australia Institute surveyed two groups of 1000 people, one each in Australia and Taiwan.

Beijing fired at least 11 missiles near Taiwan after the trip, with the island’s government claiming it amounted to a simulated invasion.

About 60 per cent of participants from both groups said their countries would be defeated in a war against China.

Men from both countries held higher confidence their nation could be defended from Beijing than the women surveyed.

The research found slightly more Australians (85 per cent) than Taiwanese (80 per cent) perceived China as aggressive.

But both groups said it was the United States who was the aggressor.

Almost double the number of Australian men (49 per cent) as women (26 per cent) believe the country will be prepared to enter into a conflict if Beijing threatened Australia with military action.

The vast majority of both Australian and Taiwanese participants think it’s in everyone’s interests for China and the US to work towards maintaining peace.

International and Security Affairs Program director Allan Behm said it was “astonishing” more Australians were afraid of an attack.

“The more that the anti-China lobby beats the drums of war, the more afraid of China Australians become,” he said.

“This research indicates that the rhetoric on China and the fearmongering around the a risk of war has had an impact on public opinion.

“The results support the case for a reset in the Australia-China relationship and the manner in which we hold this important national conversation.”

The Albanese government urged Beijing to halt its activities out of concern over possible “miscalculations” and reaffirmed its commitment to the one-China policy.

Behm praised Foreign Minister Penny Wong for her handling of the relationship.

In an address to the National Press Club, China’s ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian said there was “no compromise” on Taiwan, and that his nation’s 1.4 billion people would decide its future.

He also said the 23 million people living in Taiwan would undergo re-education about China once reunited.

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