The Nanos Number: Doing business with China

Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives. This week, he looks at how Canadians feel about doing business with China.
In a new weekly segment on CBC's Power & Politics, Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research, shares the stories behind the poll numbers 6:17

Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

This week: How comfortable are Canadians with doing business with China?

The number:


The percentage of Canadians that would like to see Chinese goods inspected above goods from every other country.

The source: Nanos-University of Buffalo North American Monitor national representative weighted online survey of 1,000 Canadians conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 2012.

A U.S. Intelligence committee is warning that the Chinese tech company Huawei is a threat to Canadian security. The committee has also turned over evidence to the FBI of possible bribery and corruption.

The Canadian government isn't saying whether it will ban Huawei from bidding on projects, but these allegations have thrown a spotlight on the perceived risk of doing business with China at a time when the government is focussed on strengthening the relationship. How do stories like this affect the way Canadians perceive doing trade and business with China?

A survey by Nanos Research and the University of Buffalo asked Canadians to consider packages or shipping containers coming into Canada, and name countries that should cause Canadian customs officials to thoroughly inspect shipments.

Twenty-six per cent of Canadians said they'd like to see goods inspected from China above other countries, second only to Mexico at 48 per cent.

"There's a direct relationship between what's in the news and what I'll say is anxiety related to China," Nik Nanos says.

The China brand

Nanos warns that the Conservatives are going to have to manage the China brand while trying to engage in trade talks with the country to make sure there isn't negative blowback from Canadians.

"The China brand among average Canadians is going to be the key thing to watch," he says.

Twenty-six per cent is in the average range for China when compared with past surveys, Nanos says, but the reasons behind the worry may be different and that could present a problem.

"In the past, the narrative related to concern was goods and the safety of Chinese goods. Now we're looking at it through the prism of security. And I think this presents an even greater risk," Nanos says.

Conservatives are also going to have to watch what is happening in terms of how China is being perceived and branded south of the border, because it could have an impact here.

"I would not underestimate the impact of what's going on in the United States and how Americans are viewing the Chinese. Because there's usually a spillover affect."

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a Fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association and a Research Associate Professor with SUNY (Buffalo).