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Australians like Trump as confidence in Biden and US plummets

(Bloomberg) — Australians are more distrustful of the U.S. than ever under Joe Biden’s administration, a Lowy Institute poll found, as support for his presidential predecessor Donald Trump rose further.

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Confidence in Biden as a world leader fell 13 percentage points to 46% in the latest survey of Australians’ foreign policy attitudes by the Sydney think tank. Overall trust in the US as a global power fell to 56% – down from a peak of 65% in 2022 – in a worrying sign as Washington seeks to strengthen alliances in the Indo-Pacific to counter China.

While about two in three Australians said they would like to see Biden re-elected in November, the result was still the worst for a Democratic candidate since the question was first asked in 2008. Instead, 29 % said they want to see Trump victorious. , the largest support for a Republican candidate in the poll’s history.

The poll was conducted before Trump was found guilty in the first criminal trial of a former president in US history. However, his support in the Lowy poll has risen steadily since he first ran for office: in 2016, just 11% of Australians favored Trump, rising to 23% in the 2020 election, when he was decisively defeated by Biden.

Ryan Neelam, director of the Lowy Institute’s Public Opinion and Foreign Policy Program, said the results reflect a complex attitude toward the US. While those surveyed felt safer in the short term thanks to the US alliance, many were also concerned about the risk of being drawn into a regional war by Washington in the future.

“A lot of Australians don’t feel they have a reliable read on where the US is going,” Neelam said.

The Lowy Institute has been surveying Australians for two decades on their attitudes towards international relations and foreign policy. Japan, France and the UK are regularly named as the most trustworthy nations, while responses to the US and China have fluctuated over time.

The decline in confidence in the US comes as Australia ties its security ever closer to Washington through the Aukus pact. The tripartite deal with the US and Britain aims to provide Australia with a fleet of US nuclear-powered submarines by the next decade.

Despite a recent warming of ties between Canberra and Beijing, the survey showed that attitudes towards China have barely budged. Only 17% of Australians said they trusted it to act responsibly in the world, only a marginal improvement on recent years and well below the 52% in 2017. Ask if they see China as more of a security threat or a economic partner, 53% answered that it was primarily a risk.

Just 12 per cent of Australians said they trusted Chinese President Xi Jinping to do the right thing in world affairs, just ahead of Vladimir Putin on 7 per cent and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on just 4 per cent.

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