Apart from China, Singapore is now the Chinese people's favourite country, according to Chinese state-controlled media Global Times (GT).
14 per cent of respondents from a survey said they liked Singapore the most, while Canada came in last, with only 0.4 per cent of the respondents saying they like the country.
Germany and France took the second and the third spot, followed by the U.S., Russia, and Maldives.
Chinese citizens also said they wanted to visit Singapore the most, with Maldives and France coming in at second and third place.
This is reportedly Singapore's first time making it to the top of the list in four years. Previously, the country had not been featured in the top six since 2018.
Most Chinese people want to visit Singapore
The survey garnered 2,148 responses from residents in 16 Chinese cities, and was conducted online by the Global Times Research Centre and market survey firm DATA100 from Dec. 10 to Dec. 15, GT reported.
17.1 per cent of respondents also said Singapore is the country that they wanted to visit the most, making Singapore the top country on the list.
The previous country that topped the list in 2019 and 2020 -- Japan -- slid to sixth place this year.
Rocky relations between China and Canada
The report mentioned that Canada used to be one of the hottest travel destinations for the Chinese, but did not elaborate on the reason behind Canada's decline on this year's list.
Subsequently, China retaliated by detaining two Canadian citizens in China under charges of espionage, which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referred to as "trumped-up" charges.
Meng struck a deal with U.S. prosecutors in September and has since returned to China, while the two Canadians have also been released.
Meng was given a hero's welcome when she landed in Shenzhen, China, on Sep. 25.
Chinese professor expresses surprise
Speaking to GT, a professor at the Guangdong Research Institute for International Strategies, Zhou Fangyin, said it was surprising to see Singapore as the Chinese people's favourite country and travel destination.
Zhou opined that the decline of news from Singapore that's perceived to be negative towards China may have contributed to the respondents' positive feedback. He also noted that the impression of Western countries has deteriorated.
"There are also several similarities between Singapore and China in the fight against Covid-19, which has boosted Chinese people's favourability toward Singapore," Zhou said.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Oct. 15, in which both leaders reaffirmed the strong ties between Singapore and China, as well as the mutual benefits of continued bilateral exchanges and cooperation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both leaders also noted the continued good progress in three government-to-government projects and close cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, while also discussing ways to strengthen economic recovery and enhance collaborations on cross-border and supply chain connectivity.
In light of the tension between the U.S. and China, PM Lee has made Singapore's stance clear in that we do not wish to be forced to choose sides.
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