Filipinos most worried about conflict with China – study

Paterno R. Esmaquel II
Compared to other Asian countries, the Philippines – the only country that dared to bring China to court over its West Philippine Sea claim – is most worried about conflict

DAVID VS GOLIATH. A Chinese Coast Guard ship (top) and a Philippine supply boat engage in a standoff as the Philippine boat attempts to reach Ayungin Shoal, a reef claimed by both countries, on March 29, 2014. File photo by Jay Directo/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Among countries embroiled in territorial disputes with China, the Philippines is the most worried about military conflict with the Asian giant, a US-based think tank said.

In a study published by Pew Research Center on Monday, July 14, the Philippines is also the most concerned about military conflict with China even among other Asian neighbors surveyed.

The 2014 Spring Pew Global Attitudes Survey showed that 93% of Filipinos fear “that territorial disputes between China and neighboring countries could lead to a military conflict.”

The study added that 61% of Filipinos are “very concerned” about a possible conflict with China.

Filipinos are most worried about this compared to 3 other countries in territorial disputes with China: 

The Philippines is the only country that dared to bring China to court over its West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) claim. It also has one of Asia’s weakest militaries.


More concerned than China

In the Pew Research study, concerns about conflict are also highest among Filipinos compared to other Asian neighbors surveyed:

  • South Korea – 83%
  • Malaysia – 66%
  • Bangladesh – 55%
  • Indonesia – 52%
  • Thailand – 50%
  • Pakistan – 48%

The United States, a key player seen to contain China’s aggression, has 67% of citizens concerned about territorial disputes leading to armed conflict. China has 62% of citizens concerned.

“Asia’s concerns about China reflect the fact that, as Asia’s largest economic and military power sitting at the center of the region, Beijing has territorial disputes with many of its neighbors,” Pew Research said.

Pew Research based this study on 48,643 interviews from March 17 to June 5. Researchers spoke to adults 18 years and older across 44 countries.

In the Philippines, Pew Research had a sample size of 1,008 and a margin of error of ±4.0 percentage points. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email