TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – An overwhelming majority of 87 percent, or 9 out of 10 Filipinos believe it is important for the Philippines to regain control of Chinese-held islands in the South China Sea, as revealed by a survey published on July 21.
Equally telling, a mere total of two percent of respondents felt the issue of Chinese island building on Philippine-claimed territory is unimportant.
Tensions in the region have escalated in recent years, as China has built a range of artificial islands in the South China Sea. China has converted Mischief Reef, which lies inside the Philippines' exclusive economic zone into an "island fortress".
In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in the legal dispute between China and the Philippines that China's historical claims are invalid and violate international law, namely the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). More recently, Australia, Japan and the U.S. released a joint statement opposing unilateral action in the region after the Shangri-La Dialogue in June 2018.
Of the 87 percent of respondents who believe it is important for the Philippines to regain control of Chinese-held islands in the South China Sea, 69 percent said it was "very important" and 18 percent said it was "somewhat important," according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Of the two percent who feel the issue is unimportant, only one percent characterized the issue as "not at all important" and the other 1 percent said it was "somewhat not important."
When asked to respond to the statement "China is afraid to face any court because they know that they are not on the side of justice", a strong majority of 69 percent agreed, while only 8 percent disagreed.
The survey was conducted by the Philippine social research institute, Social Weather Stations on June 27-30, when 1,200 adults were interviewed face-to-face. The survey results have a margin of error of three percent.