New survey shows most Filipinos disagree with Duterte on China policy

President is taking a business delegation of more than 200 along with him, and expects to sign agreements with Beijing

Philippines President Duterte vows to end joint US military drills
Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at a Filipino Community Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam Reuters

Philippines citizens trust the United States more than China despite newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-America stance and a purported intention to tilt foreign policy to favour China, a new survey has shown.

President Duterte is starting a much awaited and keenly watched visit to China on Tuesday. The president had polemically said the US can go to hell and personally abused President Barack Obama after the US pulled him up over the extra judicial killings he ordered.

The President is taking a business delegation of more than 200 along with him, and he expects to sign commercial agreements with Beijing and give heft to the new China tilt in foreign policy.

Kicking off his China visit, the president also made more sound bites hinting at a more warming up towards China.

"It's only China (that) can help us," Xinhua quoted him as saying. The Chinese media also quoted him as saying that he is willing to hold military drills with China but not with the United States any longer.

However, it seems the people of Philippines think otherwise. According to the Social Weather Station's poll from Sept. 24 to 27 AS MUCH AS 55 percent of Filipinos had "little trust" in China, while only 11 percent had doubts about the US relations.

The previous SWS survey had shown that 81 percent rating of "much trust" for the United States with just nine percent having "little trust". Hence it seems the President's persuasions against the US, however, has some impact on the people.

'We cannot win that'

Duterte's comments on Manila's stance on the Scarborough Shoal dispute and the greater South China Sea conflict hinted at his intention to befriend China, upsetting many in the Philippines.

When he said he was not hoping to win back the traditional fishing atoll that China forcibly grabbed in 2012, it didn't sound like a gaffe or an overdose of polemics. He sounded submissive.

"We cannot win that ... Even if we get angry, we'll just be putting on airs. We can't beat China," Duterte said.

Under Benigno Aquino III, from whom Duterte took over the reins, Manila made strident efforts to repel Chinese aggression in South China Sea. It lodged a complaint under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) after Beijing took over the Scarborough Shoal.