Filipinos trust China a lot less after West PH Sea boat sinking incident 

President Rodrigo Duterte with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in April 2019. <i>Photo: Kenzaburo Fukuhara/AFP</i>
President Rodrigo Duterte with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in April 2019. Photo: Kenzaburo Fukuhara/AFP

Filipinos are now even more distrustful of China, as shown by a survey that was taken after the West Philippine Sea boat sinking incident became public.

The survey, conducted by local pollster Social Weather Stations, was released today and showed that 51 percent of Filipinos have “little trust,” in China, while 21 percent are undecided, and 27 percent have “much trust” in the Asian superpower.

This equals a -24 trust rating towards China, which SWS classified as “poor.” It was the lowest trust rating received by any country in the survey.

China’s current rating is 18 points lower than the trust rating that it received in a similar SWS survey in March, which was -6. It was also the lowest trust rating that China has received since June 2018, when it scored a -35.

Many of the respondents also believed that China does not have good intentions for the Philippines. Only 27 percent (8 percent “strongly agree” and 19 percent “somewhat agree“) believe that what the Chinese government wants for the Philippines will benefit Filipinos.

The survey was taken from June 22 to 26, a few days after news broke that a Filipino fishing boat was slammed and sunk by a Chinese-owned vessel near Recto Bank (aka Reed Bank) in Palawan. President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed the incident repeatedly, calling it a mere maritime incident that’s not worth declaring war for.

Duterte also said that Chinese fishermen do not have to leave the area because he made a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping that gives the Chinese permission to fish in Recto Bank even though it is owned by the Philippines. In exchange, Xi allegedly agreed to let Filipinos fish in the Scarborough Shoal, even though China does not have exclusive rights to it. Critics have said that Duterte made an impeachable offense by making this deal with Xi.

While Filipinos distrust China more, they have become even more trusting of the United States, a longtime ally. The survey found that 81 percent of Filipinos have “much trust” in the U.S., 11 percent are undecided, and 8 percent have “little trust.This gives the North American country a net trust rating of +73, rated by the SWS as excellent. This trust rating is higher than the +60 that the U.S. received in the March survey.

Meanwhile, 55 percent of Filipinos believe that the US has good intentions for the Philippines. This is composed of 20 percent of respondents who “strongly” believe in the U.S.’ good intentions and 35 percent who “somewhat” believe.

Other countries also received favorable trust ratings. Canada, whom Duterte threatened to declare war against over a garbage dispute, received a trust rating of +46. Australia had +46, Japan had +45, New Zealand had +38, and Malaysia had +34.

The results of the survey were based on interviews with 1,200 adults, with 300 each from Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

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