PETALING JAYA: A public opinion survey shows that 70 per cent of Malaysians have a favourable impression of China but many are unaware of the conflict over the South China Sea.
Forty-five per cent viewed the territorial claims of China over the South China Sea as a threat, while 33 per cent saw no threat in it.
According to the survey commissioned by Universiti Malaya and done by Merdeka Center, 67 per cent of the 1,109 respondents aged 21 and above said the Malaysia-China relationship was heading in the right direction.
The survey showed that both Malays and non-Malays have a good impression of China.
The survey, conducted from April 12 to 27, was commissioned by Dr Ngeow Chow Bing, deputy director of UM’s Institute of China Studies, said a Star Online report. He released the survey results on Aug 17 at an international conference, “Towards a diamond era of Asean-China relations”.
The survey also found that 57 per cent of respondents had a better impression of China after visiting mainland China, with 63 per cent Malay/Muslim bumiputeras and 56 per cent of non-Malays coming back feeling good about the country.
“The survey results generally show that Malaysians now are supportive of the Government’s policy to maintain close and good relations with China amid the latter’s rising international influence,” Ngeow was quoted as saying by Star Online.
One of the questions in the survey was: “How would you describe your overall impression of China as a country?”
About 69 per cent of Malays and Chinese replied “favourable” while 81 per cent of Indian respondents said “favourable”.
The report said 67 per cent of respondents saw the relationship with China as heading in the right direction. Only 22 per cent thought it was going the wrong way.
Another important question was: “How do you view China’s emergence as a military power: is it a serious threat to Malaysia, potential threat, neutral country or a potential ally of Malaysia?”
To this question, 28 per cent of respondents viewed China as a potential ally, 22 per cent as a neutral country, 20 per cent as a potential threat and 7 per cent as a serious threat.
Asked about the conflicts and developments in the South China Sea, only 38 per cent of the respondents said they knew about it.
But, according to the Star Online report, 45 per cent said the territorial claims of China over the South China Sea was a threat, while 33 per cent saw no threat in it.