Monday, March 28, 2005

Australians view U.S. as a threat to peace

America lags behind Japan and China in popularity, poll finds

By Raymond Bonner and Donald Greenlees
The New York Times, International Herald Tribune
Tuesday, March 29, 2005

U.S. foreign policy poses as big a threat to world peace as Islamic fundamentalism, while the rise of China is the last on a list of potential threats, according to a survey released Monday of public opinion in Australia, one of Washington's closest allies in the Asia-Pacific.

…The survey …shows that America trails far behind China and Japan in public popularity. Although 84 percent of Australians had positive views of Japan and 69 percent expressed positive views of China, only 58 percent felt the same way about the United States.

…"There is quite a big disconnect between how the world views Bush and how the Americans view Bush," says Don Russell, Australia's ambassador to Washington between 1993 and 1995.

The war in Iraq appears to be one of the strongest points of disagreement Australians have with U.S. policy…

…57 percent of Australians rated U.S. policy as a threat equal to Islamic fundamentalism.

…But if Australians are feeling more ambivalent about America, their attitude to the economic powerhouses of East Asia is surprisingly warm, suggesting economic interests outrank old strategic friendship in the popularity stakes.

Australians are surprisingly sanguine about the emergence of China. Only 35 percent of Australians thought China's growing power was a threat.

Even on trade, China was ranked as a more attractive partner, A free trade agreement with America was viewed as good for Australia by only 34 percent of respondents. A similar deal with China won majority support, 51 percent.

In case of a U.S.-China war over Taiwan, there were limits on how far Australia should go in support of the alliance. Seventy-two percent were against coming to the aid of the United States.

Surprisingly, this is only news right now in Australia, India, and Europe

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