More than 90 percent of respondents to an online poll said that China should "resolutely oppose Japanese whaling".
The poll results will come as a setback for Japan because politicians are desperately trying to muster international votes for a crucial annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) next week.
The poll, conducted by CCTV.com, CYOL.com, Tom.com and IFAW.org websites from June 2 to 6, received 2,893 votes; 91 percent were resolutely opposed to Japanese whaling, while only five percent supported it.
Four percent were unconcerned.
"Whales are part of the natural environment and we cannot leave only pieces of them for future generations," a voter nicknamed Ni Ya wrote on CCTV.com.
"China should vote against Japan to protect the whales."
Japan has been pressuring countries to vote in favor of commercial whaling, which the IWC banned in 1986, at a meeting to be held on St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean from June 16 to 20.
"Given the current situation, it would not be an exaggeration to say that China's vote may play an important role in stepping up the anti-whaling campaign," said Jeff He, an official with the International Fund for Animal Welfare China office.
A government official, who declined to be named, told Xinhua News Agency that it would be improper for the government to publicize its stance before the vote, but added that China has strictly abided by the whaling ban.
Two countries supporting Japan -- the Marshall Islands and Cambodia -- have joined the IWC ahead of the meeting, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported on Monday.
As the admissions bring the number of IWC members to 69, Japan's most optimistic projections put the number of countries supporting its bid at 36, with 32 against and the position of one unknown.
Japan is confident the pro-whaling camp will secure a majority, reported Kyodo. If the ban is overturned Japan aims to propose scrapping the Conservation Committee, officials from Japan's Fisheries Agency have said.
In 1986, the IWC implemented a global moratorium on whale hunting, which is still in effect today.
Despite the ban, Japan has continued to hunt whales, arguing that the IWC permits whaling for scientific research. It classifies its whaling as "scientific" despite acknowledging that meat and blubber are processed and sold commercially in Japan. Experts say Japan is misinterpreting the rules.
(China Daily June 8, 2006)