Filipinos trust US more than China – SWS

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More Filipinos trust President Rodrigo Duterte but they do not seem to share his anti-American and pro-China pronouncements, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll showed.

The survey, conducted among 1,200 respondents nationwide from September 24 to 27, found that 55 percent of adult Filipinos had “little trust” in China, while 19 percent were undecided and 22 percent had “much trust” in the Asian power.

A bigger proportion of respondents, 76 percent, said they had much trust in the United States, while only 11 percent had little trust.

Since he became Chief Executive, Duterte has sought closer relations with China, which became at odds with the previous Aquino administration over the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

American ties however have become frayed, with Duterte launching tirades against the US and President Barack Obama over Washington’s criticism of the government’s war on illegal drugs.

Duterte has ordered the cancellation of joint patrols and exercises between the Philippines and the US militaries, partly to appease China.

Sought for comment, Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said the survey result was “not news.”

“It does not affect policy or government action. However, the government will have to take this into account,” Casiple told The Manila Times.

Asked if the President’s popularity will help lift China’s trust ratings, Casiple said: “Possibly. But there is no direct relation.”

“The ratings will depend on public perception of these countries’ actions,” he added.

Trust deficit

China recorded a larger negative net trust rating, at -33, from -24 in June or before Duterte assumed office. SWS classified this rating as “bad.”

SWS said China’s net trust rating was positive in only seven out of 40 surveys since the pollster first tracked it in August 1994.

Net trust in China peaked at +17 in June 2010, the start of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd’s administration, and hit a low of -46 in September 2015 amid a maritime dispute with China.

Duterte has said he would initially set aside a July 12 international arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea dispute.

The President arrived in Beijing on Tuesday to seek billions of dollars in Chinese investments, even as he vowed not to bargain with or impose on China as regards the arbitration decision.

Positive territory

SWS said the US has been in positive territory since it first tracked public trust in the superpower in December 1994. Its score has ranged from a “moderate” +18 in May 2005 to an “excellent” +82 in December 2013. Net trust in the US has been above +60 since June 2010.

The SWS poll also showed high trust ratings for Australia and Japan.

Australia scored +47 (62 percent “much trust,” 15 percent “little trust”), from June’s similarly “good” +49.
Japan obtained a net trust rating of +34 (56 percent “much trust,” 21 percent “little trust,” rounded off) in September, 14 points above April’s “moderate” +20.

Norway and the Netherlands scored “moderate” net trust ratings of +16 (41 percent “much trust,” 25 percent “little trust”) and +14 (40 percent “much trust,” 26 percent “little trust”), respectively.

For Taiwan, the survey found a “neutral” +3 net trust rating (36 percent “much trust,” 34 percent “little trust,” rounded off), from -7 in the June 2013 survey.

SWS rates net trust ratings of +70 and above as “excellent”; +50 to +69, “very good”; +30 to +49, “good”; +10 to +29, “moderate”; +9 to –9, “neutral”; -10 to –29, “poor”; -30 to –49, “bad”; -50 to –69, “very bad”; and -70 and below “execrable.”

The survey on public trust in selected countries was first released by SWS’ media partner, BusinessWorld, on Tuesday. It had a sampling error margin of ±3% for national percentages.

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