AFTER taking control of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, harassing resupply missions to Marines stationed in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and doing massive reclamation works in disputed areas in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), do you think Filipinos will still have a high regard for China?
A recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey virtually gave an answer to that question after results indicate that three in five or 62 percent of Filipinos have “little trust” in China.
The survey conducted among 1,200 respondents from June 5 to 8 also found 17 percent have “much trust” in China, resulting in net trust rating of minus-45, which SWS classifies as “Bad.”
“China’s lowest net trust score of -45 surpassed the previous record-low of -36 in June 2014, May 2012, and June 1995 during the Mischief Reef confrontation between the Philippines and China,” SWS said in a statement posted on its website.
The release of the survey results came a day after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague started hearing oral arguments on a case filed by the Philippines against China.
The Philippines has appealed to the international tribunal to declare China’s claims to most of the South China Sea illegal.
At the start of the hearing last Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario explained that the Philippines had sought judicial intervention because China’s behavior had become increasingly “aggressive” and negotiations had proved futile.
China insists it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the South China Sea, a strategically vital waterway with shipping lanes through which about a third of all the world’s traded oil passes.
Its claim, based on ancient Chinese maps, reaches close to the coasts of its southern neighbors.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei Darusalam and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the sea, which have for decades made it a potential military flashpoint.
The SWS survey also showed 51 percent of Filipinos closely followed media reports on “the events regarding the conflict between the Philippines and China about who owns the islands in the West Philippine Sea.”
The country’s dispute with China was the fifth most followed news event of 14 news events presented to the survey respondents.