Survey: Filipinos don’t trust ‘frenemy’ China

MOST Filipinos consider China as the Philippines’ top “frenemy” and its least-trusted neighbor following Beijing’s massive reclamation in the West Philippine Sea, the result of the first The Standard Poll showed.

China posted a net trust rating of -60 (eight percent “much” trust, 68 percent “little” trust) in the survey conducted by resident pollster Junie Laylo from May 8 to 18.

China was also the top of mind response of the Filipinos for the countries considered as “not real friends” of the Philippines, with an overwhelming 83 percent.

The poll, which had a sample size of 1,500 with 300 respondents each from the National Capital Region, North/Central Luzon, South Luzon/Bicol, the Visayas and Mindanao, saw the United States and Japan getting the highest net trust rating of +69 and +13, respectively.

The United States and Japan were also ranked as the top two “real friends” of the Philippines while Indonesia came in second after China among its “not real friends.”

Most of the Filipinos polled said the attempt of other countries to seize Philippine territory and resources was the number one threat that they were most concerned with.

The respondents were also most concerned with the possibility of other countries declaring war or annexing the Philippines and the threats of terror attacks.

A plurality of those polled said they were satisfied with the performance of the Aquino administration in protecting the country from any possible threats from China (45 percent satisfied, 22 percent dissatisfied).

The opinion, however, on the correct track that should be taken by Manila in resolving the territorial row with Beijing was divided, with 47 percent going for the arbitration case before the United Nations and 53 percent saying the issue should be resolved diplomatically.

The majority of the respondents (64 percent) expressed confidence that the United States would help the Philippines should the country get embroiled in an armed confrontation with China.

They also said it was important for the country to boost its strategic partnership with Japan, which is also embroiled in a maritime dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands.

At least 55 percent of the Filipinos polled also thought that Japan should be allowed to strengthen its military capabilities for defense purposes amid the tensions in the region.

Those surveyed also supported the government’s pronouncement that it will pursue a strategic partnership with Vietnam—another claimant to the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea—with 52 percent of the respondents saying that would help secure freedom of navigation in the area while protecting our own territorial claims.

On the other hand, 51 percent of the respondents rejected the possibility of entering into a joint exploration agreement in the Spratlys with other claimant-countries.

When asked specifically if the Philippines should partner with China in exploring the Spratlys, 53 percent of the respondents said that should not be pursued.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that China’s massive reclamation in the West Philippine Sea had resulted in the destruction of 121 hectares of coral reef, which was equivalent to $100 million in economic losses to the coastal areas.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario had said China is alone in its nine-dash line territorial claim.

“No country in the world recognizes that the 9-dash line is a valid claim on the part of China,” Del Rosario said.

But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has downplayed the criticisms over the reclamation projects, claiming these were being done in the areas that were well within China’s jurisdiction.

China claims 90 percent of the West Philippine Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have also claimed parts of the disputed areas.

The Standard Poll had error margins of +/- 2.6 percent for the national result and +/- 6 percent for the regional results.

All regions were represented in the survey.

Laylo, The Standard’s in-house pollster, has 25 years of experience in political polling and strategic research.

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