Kenyans view US relations as ‘most important’ as China drops

September 5, 2018 12:48 pm
According to the study published on Wednesday, 38 per cent of 2,016 respondents sampled between July 25 and August 2 backed ties which US compared to 25 per cent who supported good relations with China/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5 – An increasing number of Kenyans now perceive relations with US “most important” as approval for relations with China drops, an Ipsos-funded survey now shows.

According to the study published on Wednesday, 38 per cent of 2,016 respondents sampled between July 25 and August 2 backed ties which US compared to 25 per cent who supported good relations with China.

A similar poll in March had projected those in support of good relations with China at 34 per cent – the highest rating in Iposos’ recent history – compared to US which stood at 26 per cent at the time.

Relations with the US were highest rated by respondents in August 2015 when 56 per cent of respondents then saw partnership with the US as most beneficial.

According to the new study which was conducted at a time of heightened foreign engagements by President Uhuru Kenyatta, approval for better relations with China was high among supporters of the Jubilee Party at 30 per cent and low among supporters of the main opposition alliance at 19 per cent.

“Among the Jubilee Party supporters, positive identification of China has dropped from 44 per cent in March to just 30 per cent, with almost as many (28 per cent) now considering the US the country’s most important development partner,” the poll firm said in its 2018 second quarter release.

Nearly half of 694 Opposition supporters interviewed – 49 per cent – supported better relations with the US.

“Among NASA supporters, such positive identification of China was 24% per cent (as opposed to 32 per cent for the US), whereas in this survey this gap has increased to 49 per cent for the US vs. just 19 per cent for China,” the pollster noted.

Only 28 per cent of 1,043 Jubilee Party stalwarts who were part of the poll’s sample population thought better relations with the US were “most important.”

Other nations listed by the respondents as of great significance to the country were the United Kingdom (4 per cent), South Africa (4 per cent), and Germany (3 per cent) representing both the aggregate support and that among supporters of the governing party.

Opposition supporters interviewed considered relations with the three nations of least significant with only 3, 1, and 2 per cent respectively rating partnerships with the countries as “most important.”

Japan (2 per cent), Russia (2 per cent), Sweden (1 per cent), and Israel (1 per cent) were listed sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth.

The survey was conducted at a time President Kenyatta had announced his visit to the White House where he met President Donald Trump on August 27 as well as UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to Nairobi on August 30.

The two engagements were followed by Kenyatta’s attendance of the Forum for China Africa Cooperation in Beijing this week during which he held separate talks with President Xi Jinping.

Nearly half – 49 per cent – of the respondents identified loans and grants as the main reason for considering relations with the US as most beneficial with 38 per cent listing infrastructure.

On the flipside 86 per cent of respondents singled out infrastructure as they main reason for favouring relations with China with 11 per cent listing loans and grants.

Those seeing relations with the US as most beneficial also enumerated counter-terrorism (4 per cent), anti-corruption (3 per cent), and culture (2 per cent) as reasons for their response.

According to Ipsos, the awareness of President Trump among respondents stood at 62 per cent with but a staggering 68 per cent of respondents gave negative responses on his style of leadership.

Trump’s perceived negative view of the African continent topped negative responses at 39 per cent with his trade protectionism tendencies coming second at 7 per cent.

Seven per cent of the respondents also said he was a threat to peace.

The poll which was conducted in forty-six counties reported a +/-2.16 sampling error and a 95 per cent degree of confidence.

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