Six of 10 Filipinos dis­trust China; US en­joys 84% sup­port–sur­vey


Six of 10 Filipinos are dis­trust­ful of China, which is em­broiled in a ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute with the Philip­pines in the South Chna Sea, while eight of 10 trust the United States, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Pulse Asia sur­vey.

The sur­vey, which polled 1,800 adult re­spon­dents from Dec. 14 to 21, showed that 60 per­cent dis­trust China, down from 63 per­cent in March 2017.

Fifty-four per­cent of the re­spon­dents also dis­trusted Rus­sia, the Philip­pines’ new ally, down from 56 per­cent in March 2017.

The per­cent­age of the re­spon­dents who trust the United States rose to 84 per­cent, from 79 per­cent in March 2017, while trust in Ja­pan re­mained at 75 per­cent.

“I be­lieve [the low trust in China] is largely due to the [South China] Sea dis­putes, un- for­tu­nately propped up by sim­mer­ing his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural bi­ases against the for­eign Chi­nese,” said Jay Ba­tong­ba­cal, direc­tor of the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines In­sti­tute for Mar­itime Af­fairs and Law of the Sea.

South China Sea con­flict

The con­flict in the South China Sea has “not been helped” by China’s con­duct in the strate­gic wa­ter­way, which Filipinos “per­ceive as un­wor­thy of their trust,” Ba­tong­ba­cal said.

Over the years, China has turned a string of reefs in the South China Sea into mil­i­tary gar­risons.

By con­trast, the United States, the coun­try’s tra­di­tional ally, has stepped up “free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion op­er­a­tions” in the 3.5-mil­lion-square-kilo­me­ter sea to counter China’s claim.

For­mer So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral Florin Hil­bay was more blunt, say­ing “Filipinos un­der­stand that a bully can­not be trusted.”

“[It’s] be­cause [Filipinos] un­der­stand that China con­tin­ues to dis­re­spect our rights over the [South China] Sea, that its ag­gres­sion is selfish and at the ex­pense of the rights of Filipino fish­er­men,” he said in a text mes­sage to the In­quirer.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Sal­vador Panelo ac­knowl­edged that it may take time for Filipinos to be­gin trust­ing China.

Cul­tur­ally closer

“Maybe as we go along and see China show­ing its sin­cer­ity with re­spect to agree­ments be­tween the two coun­tries, that per­cep­tion might change,” he said at a press brief­ing.

Ba­tong­ba­cal said Filipinos were his­tor­i­cally and cul­tur­ally closer to the United States.

Un­like the main­land Chi­nese, Filipinos share core val­ues such as free­dom and democ­racy with the Amer­i­cans, and lan­guage is not a bar­rier be­tween them, he said.

“We tend to see them (Amer­i­cans) in a bet­ter light,” he pointed out, cit­ing the close ties be­tween the two long­time al­lies.

The Ulat ng Bayan sur­vey, which had a mar­gin of er­ror of plus-or-mi­nus 2.3 per­cent­age points, showed that dis­trust was the pre­vail­ing sen­ti­ment to­ward China in ev­ery re­gion and class (68 per­cent and 62 per­cent, re­spec­tively).

The Filipinos’ high trust in the United States also did not come as a sur­prise to Panelo.

“It’s un­der­stand­able for Filipinos to feel that way … Be­cause we’ve been used to the United States be­ing our ally, so we’re used to Amer­ica more,” he said in a press brief­ing.

Source: Pulse Asia

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