66 pct of S. Koreans view China's rise as 'military threat': poll
BEIJING, June 24 (Yonhap) -- About two-thirds of South Koreans believe that a rising China has become a "military threat" to their country, with most blaming China's territorial disputes with its neighbors for the perception, a survey showed Tuesday.
According to the survey on 1,000 South Korean adults, 66.4 percent of the respondents said China's expansion is a military threat for South Korea, while 19.1 percent said "not a military threat." The remaining 14.5 percent responded they "don't know."
However, the number of South Koreans who believe China is a military threat to their country was down from two years earlier. In a similar survey conducted in 2012, 73.2 percent of the respondents said China was a military threat to South Korea, while 23.6 percent said "not a threat." Only 3.2 percent said they "don't know" in the 2012 survey.
The 2014 survey, commissioned by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, a Seoul-based think tank, and conducted by polling agency Research and Research on May 7-9, had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. The findings were unveiled at a conference on South Korea-China relations in Beijing, jointly hosted by the private think tank and Tsinghua University.
Of those who perceived China as a military threat, 45 percent cited China's territorial disputes with its neighbors as a main reason, while 24 percent cited tension between Beijing and Washington, according to the latest survey.
China's bilateral relations with Japan have deteriorated because of a simmering territorial dispute involving a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. An increasingly assertive China has also been locked in bitter disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam and other Asian neighbors over the South China Sea.
China is South Korea's No. 1 trading partner, with two-way trade topping US$270 billion last year. South Korea and China have also been cooperating in efforts to bring a peaceful end to a standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.