Distrust toward China up in poll taken after PH boat sinking



Public distrust toward China rose 14 points, a June survey by Pulse Asia found, up from its poll results in December last year.

The survey was conducted on June 24-30, following the June 9 sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese trawler near Recto (Reed) Bank. It showed 74 percent distrusted China, up from 60 percent last December.

One in three of the respondents said they would like sanctions imposed on the Chinese crew.

Those who were distrustful of China consist of 39 percent who said China cannot be trusted at all, a 19-point increase from 20 percent last December, and 35 percent who said the country should not trust China too much, down from 40 percent.

Higher rate for US

Distrust was also the majority sentiment toward Russia with 57 percent saying they distrusted Russia, up 3 points from 54 percent in December.

Since he took office in 2016, Mr. Duterte has moved the Philippines closer toward China and Russia and away from its traditional ally, the United States.

The percentage of respondents who expressed trust in the United States rose to 89 percent in June, up from 84 percent last December, while trust in Japan also went up from 75 percent to 79 percent.

Majority also expressed trust toward Australia (76 percent), Canada (71 percent), Malaysia (63 percent), United Kingdom (56 percent), Indonesia (56 percent) and Vietnam (53 percent).

Pulse Asia interviewed 1,200 adult respondents in a survey with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.8 percentage points.

What actions to take

The survey, which found nine in 10 Filipinos were aware of the sinking of the Philippine boat, also asked respondents to choose from a list of actions that should be taken following the Recto Bank incident.

Apart from filing a formal complaint before the International Maritime Organization, 36 percent said they would like the government to ask China to sanction the crew of the Chinese vessel that hit the Filipino fishing boat FB Gem-Ver 1.

Twenty-six percent said China should pay for the damage of the fishing boat and 19 percent said the Chinese crew members should be tried before a Philippine court.

According to 10 percent of the respondents, the Philippines and China should agree on a set of rules that would be applied to similar maritime incidents in the West Philippine Sea while only 8 percent favored raising the issue before the United Nations General Assembly.

In July 2016, the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s extensive claims and saying Beijing had violated Manila’s sovereign rights to fish and explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea. Beijing ignored the ruling.

Mr. Duterte has set the ruling aside in exchange for warmer relations with Beijing and Chinese aid and investments.