Wed, Oct 19, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Most Filipinos trust US much more than China: poll

Reuters, MANILA

People in the Philippines still trust the US far more than China, an opinion poll showed yesterday, despite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent outpouring of anti-US rhetoric and his sudden overtures toward old rival Beijing.

Although trust in both countries had declined slightly since the last survey in June, a Social Weather Stations poll from Sept. 24 to Sept. 27 showed 55 percent of Filipinos had “little trust” in China, versus 11 percent who had doubts about the US.

More than three-quarters, or 76 percent, of the 1,200 respondents had “much trust” in the US, compared with 22 percent who felt the same about China.

Duterte yesterday began a visit to China, accompanied by a business delegation of at least 200 people, as he looks to open a new commercial alliance with Beijing that he said aims to boost the Philippine economy and diversify a foreign policy too dependent on Washington.

He has railed ferociously about the long-time ally and former colonial power and questioned its loyalty.

He has complained of being dictated to about his deadly war on drugs by US President Barack Obama, whom he told to “go to hell.”

Last week, Duterte called Obama, the EU and UN “fools” for criticizing his narcotics crackdown, and said he would “humiliate” them if they accepted his invitation to probe alleged summary executions.

Some Americans in the Philippines said his outbursts have left many of their compatriots, and US businesses, jittery.

The group’s last poll showed an 81 percent rating of “much trust” for the US, with just 9 percent having “little trust.” Feelings about China were better at that time, with 27 percent having high trust and 51 percent little trust.

That poll — conducted after Duterte’s election, but prior to his taking office — preceded a July ruling by an arbitration court in the Hague, Netherlands, that dealt a blow to China’s vast territorial claims in the South China Sea, in a case brought by Manila, which China refuses to recognize.

In comments likely to have irked Chinese leaders, Duterte said his new foreign policy shift showed a change in Philippines-China ties, but added that he would not bargain with Beijing over maritime sovereignty and would raise the issue of the ruling.

Duterte’s hostility toward the US and aggressive courting of China, so soon after it lost a landmark court decision, has perplexed much of the international community.

Some experts said his apparent unilateral decision to consider dismantling a decades-old US defense alliance risks jolting a region concerned about Beijing’s rise and the chance of waning US influence under new White House leadership.

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