Engaged or Not? Perceptions of Australian Influence among Asian Publics

Japanese Journal of Political Science 13 (4):525-551 (2012)
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Despite Australia's increasing economic ties with Asia, little is known about how it is perceived by the typical citizen in the region. This paper seeks to contribute to the Australian discussion on , as well as to a general understanding of the structure of foreign policy beliefs, by examining perceptions of Australia's influence among the mass publics of 14 Asian polities. Despite some anxiety in Australia on national op-ed pages and among political leaders over how the country is perceived, we find that the average person in Asia probably does not have a strong or meaningful opinion about Australia's foreign policy. Using survey data covering the years 2006 through 2008 from the AsiaBarometer project, we find that, on average, far more people view Australia's influence on their country favorably (40.5%) than view it unfavorably (6.1%). A similar percentage (41.5%), however, have neutral views of Australia's influence, and 12% of people in Asian nations express no opinion on the topic. We suggest these high frequencies of neutral perceptions and non-response are evidence of considerable indifference towards Australia. Furthermore, we investigate the correlates of perceptions of Australia's influence and find that in almost all cases citizens general internationalist sentiment or perceptions of major powers



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