Perceptions of Asia 2023

Now in its 26th year, the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s annual Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples survey reveals just how critical New Zealanders’ believe Asia is to New Zealand’s future.

Close to two thirds of New Zealanders (65 percent) say that it is more important now for New Zealand to be investing energy and resources into building partnerships with Asian countries than it was five years ago.

The survey also finds that New Zealanders perceive many Asian countries to be friendlier towards New Zealand than in previous years, and that there is significant public support for increasing New Zealand’s economic, political and social ties across the Asia region.

Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whitau Tuhono executive director, Simon Draper, says that the survey shows that while China remains a central part of how New Zealanders are seeing Asia, other countries like Japan, Singapore and South Korea are starting to receive greater attention

. "Our survey data tells us that New Zealanders see value in New Zealand maintaining a range of partnerships across Asia, and that it’s important to have a long-term vision and plan for guiding our engagement with the world’s most dynamic region."

New Zealanders feel warmer towards countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, and they also see countries such as India to be important partners for New Zealand’s future. Simon Draper notes: "In contrast, public sentiment towards both Russia and North Korea has sharply declined, while feelings towards China remain mixed."

Climate change, fake news and disinformation, a global economic downturn, and cyber-attacks are the top potential threats that New Zealanders worry about. New Zealanders are also paying attention to rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait; nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders (63 percent) say they are at least ‘fairly concerned’ about the possibility of the outbreak of conflict.

The Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples survey also provides a snapshot of how New Zealanders are connecting to Asia at an everyday level through media consumption, travel, commerce, cuisine, and popular culture.

"In addition to trade, the last few years have seen New Zealanders’ Asia interests grew in a range of other areas - entertainment, sports, innovation, and culture a trend likely to continue as the global centre of gravity for these sectors moves increasingly towards Asia" concluded Mr Draper.

- Asia Media Centre