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Australians Lose Trust in China, Survey Finds

People cross a traffic intersection in the central business district of Sydney, Australia, June 18, 2020.

A majority of Australians have lost trust in China, a survey finds, as the two nations engage in escalating disputes over trade and the coronavirus pandemic.

A Lowy Institute survey shows 23% of Australians trust China to act responsibly in the world, compared to 52% in the same poll conducted in 2018.

The Lowy poll released Wednesday also found that 94% of Australians want the government to reduce its economic dependence on China.

Relations between the Asian-Pacific neighbors have steadily eroded in recent months over Canberra’s push for an independent probe into the origins of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which was first detected last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Beijing has imposed heavy tariffs on Australian barley and suspended Australian beef imports in apparent retaliation for Canberra’s stance. It has also advised its citizens and students to reconsider Australia as a destination for travel and education, citing racial discrimination.