SYDNEY, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Australians are warming to a stronger China as they rank the China-Australia relationship at the same level as its relationship with the United States in an annual foreign policy poll.
In a clear shift from two years ago, 30 percent of Australians view China as the country's "best friend in Asia," compared with 25 percent who say it's Japan (second place), according to the annual Lowy Institute for International Policy poll released on Tuesday. Both China and Japan were in equal first place in the 2014 poll.
The positive influences on this view include the China's economic growth, its culture and history as well as the people-to-people relations, with 85 percent of respondents saying the people they have met have had a positive influence.
But Australians hold the China-Australia relationship as equally important as its relationship with the United States, according to the survey, with both polling at 43 percent.
The vote was split down the middle though, with Australians aged under 45 viewing China as more important, compared with those aged 45 and over viewing the U.S. as more important.
"Young Australians were the most enthusiastic about deepening ties with China," Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) deputy director James Laurenceson told Xinhua.
"That augers well for the future of the Australia-China relationship."
The annual poll surveyed 1,202 Australian adults between Feb. 26 and March 15 on a wide range of issues, including Australia's foreign policy, refugees and immigration, foreign investment, U.S. domestic politics, Middle East security issues and Australia's role in the world.