But the negative sentiment predates the coronavirus. There is another factor at work, and that has to do with something China is highly sensitive about: human rights.
It is no coincidence that 13 of the 14 countries — South Korea being the exception — were among those that harshly criticized China in the United Nations debate on human rights earlier this month.
Many have recent, first-hand experience of what China is like. In Australia, 81 percent now hold negative views, compared to 57 percent last year. China was angered by Australia’s proposal that the World Health Organization investigate the origin of the pandemic. Australians then learned that China was cutting back coal imports and, this weekend, cotton exports as well.
In Canada, the Chinese ambassador, Cong Peiwu, last week warned against granting asylum to Hong Kong activists. He said that if Canada cared about the 300,000 Canadian passport holders in the city, it should support a national security law imposed by Beijing. Cong denied he was making a threat.