Eight in 10 Filipinos are worried a festering South China Sea territorial dispute could lead to armed conflict with Beijing, an independent polling company said on Friday.
Manila-based Social Weather Stations said this sentiment had weighed on people’s minds since the Philippines in 2012 backed down from a tense standoff with China over control of rich fishing grounds near the Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島), which Taiwan also claims.
The study showed 84 percent of 1,200 respondents were “worried” about armed conflict with China.
About half were “worried a great deal” while more than a third were “somewhat worried.”
The same poll has been conducted every year since 2012 and in each of the surveys at least 80 percent of respondents have been concerned that the sea dispute could escalate into a full-blown conflict with the Philippines’ powerful Asian neighbor.
“It is natural for us to worry about armed conflict, as it is a fact that it does not benefit anyone,” Philippine presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told reporters, reacting to the survey results. “This is precisely why our government has pursued peaceful means to resolving the dispute.”
The Scarborough Shoal standoff ended with Beijing taking control of the fishing area, which is 220km off the main Philippine island of Luzon.
The shoal is about 650km from Hainan, the nearest Chinese land mass.
China and the Philippines are also in dispute over other islands and reefs in the South China Sea, with the Philippines seeking arbitration from a UN-backed body.
China has refused to participate in the proceedings.
Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, which hosts major shipping lanes and is believed to hold vast mineral reserves.
China has ramped up construction of artificial islands in the area to reinforce its sovereignty claim over most of the sea, even waters close to the shores of its neighbors.
The Philippine poll also showed a rising number of Filipinos disapproved of their government’s handling of the dispute as China undertook other actions to reinforce its claim, including alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen.
In April, Philippine authorities accused the Chinese Coast Guard of robbing Filipino fishermen of their catch at gunpoint at the Scarborough Shoal and shooing away one group with a water cannon.
Forty-six percent of respondents disapproved of their government’s response to the Chinese actions at the shoal, higher than 32 percent last year and 27 percent in 2013.
However, 49 percent in the most recent survey, which was carried out over four days in March, said they approved of the government’s response.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year