June 19, 2018 / 2:52 PM / a month ago

Australians' trust in U.S. sinks to lowest in over decade amid Trump presidency

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australians’ trust in the United States as a global power is at its lowest in over a decade, and they have more confidence in the leaders of China and India than they do in President Donald Trump “to do the right thing regarding world affairs”, according to survey released on Wednesday.

The telephone poll of 1,200 Australian adults commissioned by the Lowy Institute found 55 percent trusted the U.S. to “act responsibly in the world”, down six 6 percentage points from a year earlier.

It was the lowest rating since the Lowy Institute started conducting its annual poll in 2005, and showed perceptions of the United States in one of its closest Pacific allies had deteriorated since Trump was elected in November 2016.

“There’s a clear correlation between confidence in the president and trust in the country,” said Lowy research director Alex Oliver.

“When American presidents are unpopular, trust in the country falls,” she added.

Just 30 percent of Australians had confidence in Trump “to do the right thing regarding world affairs”, according to the poll, while China’s President Xi Jinping scored 43 percent, and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi notched 37 percent.

The poll by the independent Sydney-based policy think tank, was held between March 5 and March 25, before Trump’s June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un which world leaders have said would help de-nuclearise the Korean peninsula.

More positively, the poll showed Australians’ support for an alliance with the United States was unchanged from the previous year at 76 percent, though Oliver warned support for the alliance might start “to fall away” if Trump were to win a second term.

Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. have been formal allies since signing the ANZUS treaty to protect the Pacific in 1951, and have been allies in most conflicts of the past century. Australia currently has troops in the Middle East to fight Islamic State alongside the United States.

While concerns about the influence of China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, have dominated Australian politics, the survey showed that only slightly more people were worried about Chinese influence than about U.S. influence, at 63 percent to 58 percent.

The poll did show a spike in concern about Chinese investment, with 72 percent of people saying Australia was “allowing too much investment from China”, up from 56 percent in 2014.

Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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