Palace vouches for China

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China’s message of goodwill was not sent completely and clearly to Filipinos who have relied on other foreign powers for centuries and Malacañang believes it was the reason why it tanked the question of trust in a survey of adult Philippine citizens recently.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo on Tuesday said there is a need for Filipinos to be informed of the need for the Philippines to expand relations beyond its traditional allies.

It was only recently, soon after former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was elected president, when the Philippines warmed up to China, which had been dragged to a legal issue of ownership of several islands by former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

China then agreed to finance majority of President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program aimed at modernizing the country’s aging infrastructure, which the Chief Executive blames for the country’s conservative economic growth.

Panelo’s reaction came after a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed most Filipinos disagree with claims the Chinese government has good intentions for Filipinos despite the Duterte administration’s repeated assurance that China is an ally and not a threat.

The Fourth Quarter 2018 poll, conducted by the SWS from 16 to 19 December, asked respondents about their views regarding the statement “Most of what the Chinese government wants to happen in the Philippines is good for Filipinos…”

Results yielded 44 percent of Filipinos disagreeing with the statement, while 27 percent are in agreement and 29 percent were undecided.

“We are seeing that there would be a change of hearts and minds from those undecided and even those who disagree, whom we believe are used to the United States as our long-standing ally, once our enhanced ties with China start to yield positive economic results,” Panelo said.

They will realize that all these policies of the administration are intended not for any foreign race or nationality but for the sole benefit of the Filipino people.

The official pointed out that Filipinos must understand the need for the country to expand its relations beyond its traditional ties with countries such as the United States and Japan to have a better appreciation of Mr. Duterte’s “path of broader diplomatic relations with the international community.”

“With such mindset, they will realize that all these policies of the administration are intended not for any foreign race or nationality but for the sole benefit of the Filipino people,” he stated.

The Philippines and China have sealed over 20 deals when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Manila in November last year.

Most notable of these agreements was the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a joint exploration in the contested territory of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

While Panelo remains hopeful the Filipinos’ distrust towards China will wane in time, the spokesman lamented how the 44 percent figure “is not actually a figure representing a majority.”

He implied that the poll was a “political propaganda” by Mr. Duterte’s critics and detractors who “have become desperate in employing their anti-China card” against the administration.

“After two unsuccessful attempts in creating fear and hatred against the policies of the administration with regard to our foreign relations through first — the China debt trap scare tactics, which have been competently fended off by our economic managers in the case of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project Loan Agreement; and second — the International Criminal Court challenge against China waged by former Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

Now comes another political propaganda purportedly saying that 44 percent — which is not actually a figure representing a majority — disagree that the Chinese government has good intentions for the Filipino people.” he said.

“While we note that 27 percent of adult Filipino respondents believe that most of what the Chinese government wants to happen in the Philippines are good for the Filipinos, we also understand that there is a higher percentage, 29 percent, who remain undecided about the matter,” he added.

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