Updated 11:12 AM PHT Tue, October 18, 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Filipinos have poor trust in China, their country’s principal rival over territories in the South China Sea, according to a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
The June 24-27 poll results released Monday by the SWS showed 51 percent of Filipinos have "little trust" and 27 percent have "much trust" in China, while 19 percent were undecided. This garnered China a net trust rating of -24 percent, which is classified as “poor” by the independent pollster.
The net trust rating is the difference between those who have “little” and those who “much” trust in China. A net rating of +70 percent and above in a public trust survey is classified as “excellent” while a +9 percent to -9 percent is considered “neutral” while a -10 percent to -29 percent is “poor,” according to SWS standards.
The survey, which polled 1,200 adults nationwide and has a margin of error of ±3 percentage points, was conducted about two weeks before the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague ruled on July 12 in favor of the Philippines against China. The ruling junked China’s “nine-dash line” claim over most of the South China Sea.
Beijing has rejected the decision, calling it "illegal, null and void.”
The survey results, however, showed an improvement over from the -45 percent net trust rating of China in June 2015 and -46 percent in September that year, when reports and images of Chinese island building in the South China Sea areas also claimed by the Philippines were widely reported in the media.
The quarterly poll on the Filipinos’ level of trust in foreign countries is the latest by the SWS since 1994 under then President Fidel Ramos when the Chinese were first reported to have built concrete structures on Mischief Reef, also called Panganiban Reef by the Philippines, in the Spratlys.
Since then, the China has obtained positive net trust ratings in only seven quarters – three during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and four under President Benigno Aquino III.
Filipinos expressed "excellent" trust in the United States, with a net trust rating of +72 and “good” level of trust for Australia which obtained +49 percent in this year’s second quarter survey.
The June survey was part of SWS’s public trust survey in which President Rodrigo Duterte obtained a +84 percent, or excellent, trust rating.