• Kyodo

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More American opinion leaders view China as the United States’ most important partner in Asia given the countries’ trade relations, but Japan is considered most trustworthy, a survey by the Japanese Foreign Ministry shows.

Asked to choose “the most important partner of the United States” among Asian and nearby countries, 35% of 200 opinion leaders from a range of fields picked China, 33% chose Japan and 9% Australia. South Korea ranked fourth at 7% in the annual survey.

The percentage of respondents selecting China was up significantly from 18% in the survey a year earlier, while those picking Japan slipped from 42%.

Of those who saw China as the most important partner, almost four out of five cited economic factors, with 56% picking trade ties and 23% the country’s economic strength, according to the survey conducted between December and January.

Japan topped the list of countries in the region seen as reliable for the United States with 36% of the respondents naming the country, followed by Australia at 30%. China gained just 3% of the votes, trailing South Korea which ranked third, picked by 17%.

Asked why they selected Japan, 41% pointed to trade ties and 33% cited good relations and the bilateral alliance.

Economic ties between the world’s two largest economies deepened significantly after China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, with their goods trade totaling $558.1 billion in 2019, about three times larger than trade between Japan and the United States.

U.S.-China tensions became a major concern for the global economy after former U.S. President Donald Trump instigated a tariff war to reduce the trade deficit with China, accusing the Asian country of unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft.

Globally, Canada was picked as the most important partner for the United States, followed by Britain, Japan and Germany.

Britain was named the most trustworthy among the world’s countries and regions, followed by Canada, Japan and the European Union.

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