Eighty per cent of Filipinos disapprove of Manila’s South China Sea policy

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South China Sea
The overlapping territorial claims over the South China Sea. In recent years, Beijing has unilaterally claimed the vast majority of the waters.

Eighty per cent of Filipinos disapprove of their government’s lack of action on the South China Sea issue, a survey has found. 

The latest Social Weather Stations poll, taken on June 27-30, also found that a clear majority had “little trust” in China.

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More than four out of five among 1,200 adult respondents said it was wrong to allow China to continue building and militarising artificial islands in the disputed waters.

A similar proportion also said that it was right for the government to strengthen its naval capabilities.

Seventy-four per cent said the government should refer the issue to organisations such as the UN and Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and pursue diplomatic and peaceful negotiations with Beijing.

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Seventy-three per cent backed direct negotiations with China on the issue, while 68 per cent said the government should ask other countries to mediate.

The poll also found that 18 per cent of respondents had much trust in China, 53 per cent had little trust, and 27 per cent were undecided. This yielded a net trust rating to a “bad” -35. This represents a 42-point drop from a “neutral” +7 in March.

The poll also showed 81 per cent were aware of the South China Sea dispute before the poll, while 19 per cent learned about the row only during the interview.

Distrust in China tended to be higher among those with more knowledge about the dispute, the poll showed.

Net trust in China was -41 among those with extensive knowledge, and -42 among those with adequate knowledge, compared with -33 among those with only a little knowledge, and -35 among those with very little knowledge of the dispute.

The poll used face-to-face interviews and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percentage points.

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