76% of Filipinos see China as biggest threat to country

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
76% of Filipinos see China as biggest threat to country
A China Coast Guard ship maneuvers past a Philippine fishing boat during the distribution of fuel and food to fishers by the civilian-led mission Atin Ito (This Is Ours) Coalition, in the disputed South China Sea on May 16, 2024.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Three out of four Filipinos consider China to be the biggest threat to the Philippines, a perception that has remained steady since December 2023, findings of a survey conducted by OCTA Research suggested. 

Results of the poll conducted in March showed that 76% of adult Filipinos view China as the top threat to the country. 

OCTA noted that although the figure was down slightly from a three-year high of 79% in December, the change fell within the margin of error of ±3%.

These findings come as maritime encounters between the Philippines and China grow more tense, with Beijing intensifying its pressure off Manila’s coastline. China asserts sweeping claims over the South China Sea, dismissing an international ruling rejecting its territorial basis.

“Comparing March 2024 with the figures during the first survey under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. in October 2022, the percentage of adult Filipinos perceiving China as posing the greatest threat to the Philippines increased by 17% from 59% to 76%,” the polling firm said. 

China is seen as a major threat by a large majority of Filipinos across the archipelago, with at least 71% of respondents in all major areas holding this view. Metro Manila recorded the highest percentage, with 86% of residents viewing China as the top threat. 

In terms of socio-economic classes, 77% of those in Class D and 76% of those in Class E perceive China as the greatest threat. Meanwhile, 63% of Filipinos in Class ABC share this perception. 

The Philippines recently denied a claim by Chinese state media that Filipino troops stationed at BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal pointed guns at the China Coast Guard (CCG). 

The OCTA survey also found out that 44% of Filipinos do not view Beijing as positively impacting the Philippine economy. 

Other threats 

Russia is a distant second, with only 9% of Filipinos perceiving it as the biggest threat to the country. 

“The figure is higher in Visayas at 14%, 9% from Mindanao, and 8% from Balance Luzon… In NCR, only 6% of adult Filipinos perceive Russia that way,” OCTA said.

The pollster noted that 15% of Filipinos initially saw Russia as the biggest threat after it invaded Ukraine. This concern dropped to 9% by March. 

Other countries that Filipinos think pose threats to the country include North Korea (2%), Pakistan (2%), Japan (2%), and Saudi Arabia (1%).

The nationwide survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews of 1,200 respondents. The poll had a ±3% margin of error at a 95% confidence level and ±6% for regional breakdowns. 

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