Many in U.S., Canada View China as a Threat

Saturday, June 11, 2005; 2:52 AM

WASHINGTON -- China's growing political power and influence on the world economy has many people in North America concerned, polling suggests. Substantial numbers of people in Canada and the United States worry that China's emergence is a threat to world peace and worry about China's impact on the economy in their own countries.

Two-thirds of Americans and half of Canadians say they fear that "China is a serious threat" to jobs in their own countries, according to polling done by Ipsos-Reid. Just over half of Americans, 54 percent, and nearly half of Canadians say they are concerned about the level of Chinese investment in their countries.

Tensions have been increasing between various countries and China recently over its trade surplus, surging textile imports and problems with product piracy.

"It's clear that Americans are concerned about the emergence of China as a world power," said Darrell Bricker, Ipsos' president of public affairs for North America. "Canadians, on the other hand, see it as much an opportunity as a threat."

Bricker said Canadians view increased trade with China as a way of balancing Canada's current reliance on the United States.

Majorities in both Canada (61 percent) and the United States (71 percent) said they do not believe an increased global role for China will spur democratic reforms.

As China gains economic and political clout internationally, a sizable group of people in both Canada (42 percent) and the United States (31 percent) said they agreed with the statement that "China will soon dominate the world."

While most people in both countries see China's economic growth as an opportunity, they also don't think the nation's record of human rights abuses should be rewarded by pursuing expanded trade with it.

Seven in 10 Canadians said they thought expanding Canada's trade with China would be a good thing because it would reduce dependence on U.S. goods.

The polling was conducted April 5-7 of 1,000 adults in both Canada and the United States for the Canada Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Each poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.