Social Climate

Deepened distrust in China

Only one-fourth (27 percent) of the Filipino people trust China now, while fully half (51 percent) distrust it, lowering China’s net trust score to a Poor -24 as of late June.

The sharp drop from a Neutral -6 (correctly rounded) in late March, when trust and distrust were at 32 and 39 percent, indicates the popular outrage over the June 9th sinking of a Philippine fishing boat by the Chinese government’s maritime militia (“Second Quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey: Trust in China falls to net -24 (Poor),” www.sws.org.ph, 7/19/19.)


Whereas the net trust in China is now Poor (between -10 and -29) as a national average, it is Bad (between -30 and -49) specifically in the National Capital Region (-41), in urban areas (-32) and in the middle-to-upper ABC class (-40). Unlike in March, there is no longer any demographic with at least Neutral trust in China.

President Duterte’s current popularity gives no relief to China. Among the many that are satisfied with Mr. Duterte’s performance, net trust in China is -21, which is also Poor. Among the few dissatisfied with him, it plunges deeply to a Bad -44.


In 11 SWS surveys after mid-2016, trust in China has been positive only twice, at +9 in December 2016 and +7 in December 2017, both termed Neutral since only single-digit. Under Mr. Duterte, trust in China has been Neutral a total of five times, including three single-digit negatives; Poor four times; and Bad twice.

In 20 surveys under Benigno Aquino III, trust in China was Moderate (+10 to +29) twice, Neutral twice, Poor eight times and Bad eight times. In nine surveys under Gloria Arroyo, it was Moderate twice, Neutral three times, Poor three times and Bad once. In two surveys under Joseph Estrada, it was Poor both times. In eight surveys under Fidel Ramos, it was Neutral once, Poor four times and Bad three times.

Thus, the trust of Filipinos in China is no better under the present administration than under previous ones. No matter how much Mr. Duterte and company may insist on calling China a “friend,” the Filipino people do not agree.

On the other hand, trust in the United States is Excellent once more. The June 2019 SWS survey found 81 percent trusting the United States, and only 8 percent distrusting it, for a net trust score of +73, well above the +70 boundary for Excellent. The US trust rating was Very Good (from +50 to +69) in all 10 earlier SWS surveys under Duterte.

In a total of 24 SWS surveys under Aquino III, trust in the United States was Excellent 10 times and Very Good 14 times. In 23 SWS surveys under Arroyo, the US trust score had three Excellents, 10 Very Goods, nine Goods and one Moderate (+18, in May 2005). In two surveys under Estrada, trust in the United States was Excellent both times. In all five surveys under Ramos, it was Very Good.

The present administration has not dented Filipino trust in the United States, even though the President dredged up the horrors of the century-old Philippine-American War, and keeps airing his resentments against Americans.

The Filipino protest against Chinese bullying in the West Philippine Sea is strong, regardless of trust in China. The June 2019 survey found almost nine out of 10 feeling that the government should assert its rights in the West Philippine Sea (“Second Quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey: 87% of adult Filipinos believe government should assert its right to disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea,” www.sws.org.ph, 7/12/19).


Those calling on the government to arrest the Chinese fishermen who destroy our marine resources are 91 percent among those who distrust China, and a very hefty 80 percent even among those who trust it.

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TAGS: China, sea dispute, survey, SWS, US
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