Probing the Levels of Filipino Political Support for China

WR Numero Research, together with the UA&P School of Law and Governance, the UP Department of Anthropology, and the ADMU Chinese Studies Program hosted a webinar last June 15 entitled “Probing the Levels of Filipino Political Support for China.” This was held as a response to the urgent need to know and understand the levels of Filipino political support for China in the context of a global health crisis and the continuing maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

The dialogue opened with a presentation of the results of WR Numero’s public opinion research entitled “China in the Philippines: Filipino Public Opinion About China” published in May. Seeking to gauge the perceptions of Filipinos towards China as it expands its political and economic presence in the Philippines, the research showed that 82% of respondents believe China is a threat to the Philippines. The vast majority also believe that China should be condemned for the spread of COVID-19 and should pay for its damages. Digital political sentiments, on the other hand, showed that 50% criticize the past administration on the issue of the West Philippine Sea, while 40% criticize China and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

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The guest speakers were WR Numero Research’s CEO Prof. Robin Michael Garcia, Ph.D, a Shanghai-educated political scientist and academic and is currently an Assistant Professor at the UA&P School of Law and Governance; Dr. Chester Cabalza, an expert in national security and policy making, President and Founder of the International Development and Security Cooperation, and Senior Lecturer at the UP Department of Anthropology; and, Dr. Sidney Christopher Bata, an expert in Chinese society and culture and currently serves as Director of the Chinese Studies Program of the Ateneo de Manila University. The webinar was moderated by Prof. Monica Santos, Assistant Professor at the UP Department of Anthropology.

Some of the key points that were discussed by each speaker are the following:

Prof. Robin Michael Garcia, Ph.D:

    • History of China’s foreign policy in ASEAN;
    • The effects of China’s economic statecraft on Filipino public opinion;
    • The importance of understanding public opinion and how it shapes public policy;
    • Filipinos’ low moral and affective support for China despite its contributions to Philippine economy; and,
    • The evolution of China’s foreign relations from a point of view of suspicion to today’s diplomacy of trade (“sign now, talk later”).

Dr. Chester Cabalza:

    •   US-China-PH trilateral relationships and China’s influence in the Philippines’ foreign policy;
    •   China’s grand strategy of conquering the field of geo-technology for continuous encroachment in the South China Sea and COVID-19 recovery efforts; and
    •   The importance of honoring the Hague’s ruling and exhausting every democratic measure to maintain sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea.

Dr. Sidney Christopher Bata:

    • History and cultural exchanges between the Philippines and China;
    • China’s soft power, specifically the concept of knowledge economy; and
    • The Filipino-Chinese relations during the Aquino (Cory and Noynoy/Benigno III) and Duterte presidencies.

The webinar was attended by almost a hundred participants from different sectors such as the government, academe, foreign embassies, and businesses. Some questions from the audience were also entertained on the issues of Anti-Terrorism Bill, Hong Kong’s National Security Law, and scholarship opportunities in China.

WR Numero is a technology-driven polling and data analytics company that provides accurate, independent and actionable data and insights into political and social sentiments, attitudes and public opinion.

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