Australians believe the free trade agreement (FTA) with China will be of more benefit to them than the free trade deal with the United States, an expert has said.
A survey conducted by the Australia-China Relations Institute ( ACRI) at the University of Sydney asked 1,500 Australians to identify the free trade agreement that would have the greatest benefit to the Australian economy: the biggest support was for the FTA with China at 44 percent.
That compared to 31 percent of respondents choosing the United States, 20 percent for Japan and only 5 percent selecting Australia's FTA with South Korea.
"The FTA with China has been welcomed by Australians and that's clearly seen in the survey results," Professor James Laurenceson from ACRI told Xinhua on Thursday. "More Australians think the FTA with China will deliver greater economic benefits than any of our other FTAs."
The free trade agreement between Australia and China, which Australia's Trade Minister Andrew Robb called the most significant China had ever signed with a Western country, was completed in November 2014.
Laurenceson also said the ACRI survey, which covered Australians' views on China's increasing economic and military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, showed that Australians rejected extreme views about the rise of China.
He said the majority of Australians had not adopted an attitude that China posed a huge threat to Australia's security.
"There's some caution there, which is not surprising given China's rapid emergence, but certainly no evidence that China is widely viewed as a threat," he told Xinhua.
"A majority of Australians don't buy into fear-mongering that China's rise is a threat to Australia's national interest," he said.
"For example, only 14 percent of Australians said that it would be 'very damaging' for our security if China became the region's dominant power. That compares with 23 percent who said it would be 'Not damaging at all.' And the remaining 63 percent took a position in between."
Reflecting government intent to avoid conflict with China, 66 percent of Australians said it would be unwise to join the United States in any conflict against China.
However, the issue of expanding military cooperation with the U. S. to combat China's increased presence in the region remained divisive.
Laurenceson said the Australian government could do more to teach its public about the benefits and complexities of the relationship with China.
"To the extent that the public shows caution, this provides a clear case for the Australian government to invest heavily to better understand and explain our bilateral relationship with China," he said.
China is Australia's largest two-way trading partner in goods and services, its largest goods export destination and its largest source of goods imports.