Pulse Asia: More Filipinos lose trust in China, Russia

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Filipinos’ trust for China and Russia—two countries President Rodrigo Duterte has relied on for weapons—falls further, according to new poll.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 26) — Distrust for China and Russia has widened, a new poll revealed, amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s pivot to the two countries which he has relied on for weapons.

A survey conducted by private pollster Pulse Asia showed that 74 percent of them expressed distrust toward Beijing, while 57 percent of Filipinos do not trust Moscow.

Of those who distrust Russia, 40 percent said the Philippines should not show too much trust for the emerging world power and 18 percent said it should not be trusted at all.

More Filipinos believe China should not be trusted at all, with 39 percent of them saying this, and 35 percent saying that it should not be trusted too much.

Distrust for China jumped by 14 percentage points from 60 percent in December, while distrust for Russia increased by three percentage points from 54 percent.

Only 42 percent of Filipinos trust Russia, and a smaller 26 percent said they trust China.

The survey was released on the same day of the Belt and Road China-Philippines Forum on People-to-People Exchange & Economic Cooperation, where Tan Qingshegn, Chargé D'affaires of the Chinese Embassy, acknowledged that one of the challenges in the relations between Manila and Beijing is a lack of trust between the two countries.

Tan also appealed to the media to "paint a complete picture" of China and the Philippines and "contribute positively to the promotion of understanding and trust between our two countries."

"The secret of friendship or love is to put our differences at a suitable place without undermining the overall relations. However, in our bilateral relations, sometimes a simple incident or a single issue can be blown out of proportion. Media has a very important role to play in the development of our bilateral relations," he said.

The survey was conducted from June 24 to 30, at the height of the Recto Bank incident where 22 fishermen were left floating at sea for hours after their boat was rammed by a Chinese vessel.

While almost nine out of 10 Filipinos are aware of the incident, only 36 percent of them want the Philippine government to ask China to sanction the crew onboard the vessel that hit F/B GEM-VER in addition to filing a formal complaint before the International Maritime Organization.

READ: 'Duterte should demand compensation over Recto Bank incident'

A smaller group — just 19 percent — want the Chinese crew hauled to Philippine courts, while only eight percent would want to bring the issue before the United Nations General Assembly.

Ten percent of Filipinos, meanwhile, want Beijing and Manila to sit down and agree on a set of rules that would govern similar maritime incidents in the West Philippine Sea, a portion of the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines.

The US remains to be the country most trusted by Filipinos, with 89 percent of them saying they trust the Philippines’ traditional ally. Trust for Washington even increased by five percentage points from December.

Japan comes next to the US, with 79 percent of Filipinos trusting the country. A majority of Filipinos also expressed trust for Australia, Canada, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Pulse Asia said it asked 1,200 adults to participate in the survey.

Early this year, Duterte said the Philippines would no longer buy weapons from the US, which threatened to impose sanctions on countries procuring arms from Russia.

But he softened his stance last month, saying he would reconsider purchasing arms in light of a change in US policy.

However, the President clarified he will not abandon agreements made with Russia and China, since the two countries gave arms "practically [for] free" when the Philippines needed them.

CNN Philippines Executive Producer and Correspondent Tristan Nodalo contributed to this report.