Today, the Lowy Institute for International Policy releases its tenth annual poll on Australian attitudes to the world.

The 2014 Poll has found that Australians believe China and Japan have equal claims to the title of 'Australia's best friend in Asia'. Sentiments towards China have also warmed significantly this year to its equal highest rating of 60° on the Lowy Institute's 'thermometer' of feelings towards other nations. 

Despite this increased warmth, nearly half (48%) of the adult Australian population believe China is likely to become a military threat to Australia in the next 20 years (up seven points), and a majority say the Australian Government allows too much investment from China (56%). A very high 64% of Australians either don't know or hold no view when asked whether they admire Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Other highlights:

  • Australians appear comfortable with their government spying on other countries, including allied countries. The majority of Australians think it is acceptable to spy on China (65%), Indonesia (62%) and East Timor (60%), but also on the US (54%) and even New Zealand (51%).
  • In a shift of public opinion, 45% of Australians now see global warming as a 'serious and pressing problem', up five points since 2013 and 9 points since 2012. In a new question this year, 63% of Australians say the government 'should take a leadership role on reducing emissions', while only 28% say 'it should wait for an international consensus before acting'. 
  • In a strong endorsement of the Abbott Government's policy of turning back asylum seeker boats, 71% agree that the government should turn back boats when safe to do so. For 59%, offshore processing in places such as Nauru and PNG is supported. However, temporary protection visas are more divisive — 48% agreeing and 49% disagreeing.
  • Confirming findings from previous Lowy Institute polls, only 60% of Australians, and only 42% of Australians 18-29, say that 'democracy is preferable to any other kind of government'. When asked to choose between 'a good democracy and a strong economy', only a slight majority of Australians (53%) choose a 'good democracy'. 

Download your free copy of the 2014 Lowy Institute Poll. Also remember to visit an updated 2014 Lowy Institute Poll Interactive, a data visualisation tool exploring key results from ten years of Lowy Institute polling.