Bishops unsurprised by Filipino distrust of China

MANILA (UCAN): At least two Philippine bishops have expressed agreement with the result of a November 20 survey that shows Filipinos deeply distrust China.

The survey, conducted by pollster, Social Weather Stations, revealed that Filipinos’ trust in China had fallen from poor to bad, with a net trust rating of minus 33 in September 2019—nine points lower than its -24 rating in June.

“It is not surprising for me that most Filipinos don’t trust China,” said Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, adding that even he himself doesn’t.

“I belong to this group of Filipinos who not only mistrust China but are even angry with China, the bully of Asia,” the bishop said, adding that the Chinese people should be aware that their fellow Asians feel the mistrust and anger of the country’s bullying and authoritarianism.

Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, said he was also not surprised with the result of the survey.

“I can sense it in my talks with people from all walks of life,” he said, adding that China is not trustworthy because it is not democratic.

The bishop explained that aside from its being authoritarian, China’s policies are not transparent. “This is also supported by what it does in other countries, and with religions and other groups in China that it perceives as rivals,” he said.

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Mistrust of China has grown since Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, assumed office in June 2016. 

Duterte has forged warmer ties with China despite Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea.

The United States, meanwhile, maintained its excellent net trust rating of +72 as of September this year, while Australia was good at +37, Japan  good  at +35  and Singapore moderate at +26. Trust in Vietnam was neutral at net zero.

The presidential palace, meanwhile, said it could not force Filipinos to like China but was optimistic that Beijing would eventually be appreciated by the people.

Presidential spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, said he was not surprised by the result of the survey, adding that the palace does not feel affronted.

He said the survey results are foreseeable and understandable given the conflicting positions of China and the Philippines over the South China Sea.

“The Office of the President will neither court nor force any citizen to change his or her sentiments toward our giant neighbour in the north,” Panelo said.

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