June 2021 \ News \ INTERNATIONAL
Can Boris Johnson be both Indophile and Sinophile?

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously ...

By Gray Sergeant

There has also been a marked shift in British public opinion. Last summer, a Pew poll showed a record 74 per cent of Britons held an unfavourable view of China. This was up 19-points on the previous year and completed a profound reversal of the relatively positive perception of the country which existed throughout the preceding decade. This trend is not limited to Britain. A similar hardening of views occurred across the free world from Canada to South Korea, and, unsurprisingly, in Australia too.

India was not included as part of this poll. However, previous polling by Pew suggests that Indians may have been ahead of the game. In 2019, unlike many of the people surveyed Indian respondents did not share the view that China's economic growth was good for their country. Concerns about Beijing's growing military might were even higher. The pandemic will have done nothing to assuage these fears, not least given the recent heightening of tensions, and actual confrontation, between both nations along their Himalayan border.

Going forward, this shared scepticism of China's growing global influence should give both the UK and India greater cause to strengthen ties with one another. The UK government's Integrated Review outlines its ambitions to tilt towards the Indo-Pacific and already highlights India as a key partner in the region. Ambitions to enhance bi-lateral trade and defence cooperation will be mutually beneficial in themselves and it will also make both countries more resilient to Chinese coercion.