MANILA, Philippines – More Filipinos still hold a favorable view of the United States than China but the difference is on a decline, a survey by a Washington-based think tank found.
A report by the Pew Research Center published on Thursday, September 21, said that 78% of Filipinos have a “positive view” of the US compared to the 55% who view China favorably in 2017.
But the latest figure showed a sharp decline in recent years compared during the administration of President Barack Obama. The rating under the presidency of Donald Trump in 2017 is down by 14% from 2015’s 92%.//
There is also a dip in the trust rating of Filipinos with Trump. At least 69% have confidence with the actions of the incumbent US president – a huge slide from the 94% Obama enjoyed in 2015.
53% of Filipinos, meanwhile, trust Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The think tank pointed out that the latest figures coincide with a “a global decline in US favorability” at the start of the Trump era. This is despite an earlier study that showed that 67% of Filipinos believe Trump is fit to lead the US.
The Pew Research Center conducted the study among 1,000 Filipino adults from February 26 to May 8, 2017.
Narrowing decline, improving relations with China
The decline, the report said, shows that “the perception gap between the US and China in the Philippines is narrowing.”
This is despite the almost unchanged attitude of Filipinos toward China and its leader, President Xi Jinping, since 2015’s 51%
But the latest figure, at 55%, is 17 points higher than 2014 when most Filipinos “were concerned that territorial disputes with China could lead to a military conflict.”//
In fact, in 2017, 67% now favor the push to have a “strong economic relationship” with the China. This is significantly higher than 2015’s 43%.
Pew Research’s study also found that only 28% of Filipinos in 2017 are inclined to being tough with China on territorial dispute – a huge decline from 2015’s 41%.
The recent shift in attitude came as the Philippine government under Duterte relaxed its previously tense relationship with China during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III stemming from territorial disputes over the West Philippine Sea.
Still, 55% of Filipinos approve of how Duterte handled its relations with China.
Despite the “improving” views towards China, 68% of Filipinos still believe that the US will use military force to defend the Philippines.
“While Filipinos generally favor the pursuit of a less-tense relationship with China, the threat of conflict still exists, given the ongoing territorial disputes,” the study said. – Rappler.com
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