Malacañang on Friday reacted to a Social Weather Stations poll showing “neutral” net trust in China, as opposed to “very good” net trust in the United States and Japan.

The Fourth Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey released last Wednesday showed showed the Asian power with a +7 net trust among Filipino respondents, following negative ratings in much of that previous year.

Bigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang mga Tsino. Sabi nila, magpapadala sila ng napakaraming turista. Sabi nila, magpapadala sila ng napakadaming kapital at mga negosyo. So tignan po natin ano nga ang mangyayari sa kanilang mga pangako,” Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing in Tarlac province. (Let us give the Chinese a chance. They said they will give us many tourists. They said they will bring in much capital and business. So let us see what will happen to these promises.)

Pero bago lang po ang pagkakaibigan; siyempre, kinakailangan ng panahon bago tayo maging BFF forever,” Mr. Roque added, referring to the popular phrase “best friends forever.” (But our friendship has just been revived anew; of course, it takes time before we become BFF forever.)

“We want to trust China but China must also prove herself to be trustworthy,” he also said.

“Nasa Tsina na ‘yan kung bibigyan nila ng katuparan ang kanilang mga pangako — kung hindi tayo magkakagulo dahil sa West Philippine Sea; kung sila’y tutupad sa kanilang pangako na hindi na sila magkakaroon ng mga bagong reklamasyon at mga bagong artificial islands. Ang Pilipino eh nasa anyo naman natin na mas nais natin maging kaibigan kaysa maging kaaway. Like all relationships, this is a two-sided relationship.”

(It is up to China to fulfill its promises — if there won’t be any more disagreement because of the West Philippine Sea; if they will fulfill their promise that there won’t be any new reclamation and new artificial islands. The Filipino…it’s in our character to make friends rather than enemies. Like all relationships, this is a two-sided relationship.)

China asserts sovereignty over the South China Sea. In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines on its challenge to China’s claims over the disputed waters. But President R. Duterte has set aside the ruling to develop closer ties with Beijing and seek trade opportunities and financing for infrastructure projects.

Asked about a joint exploration with China, Mr. Roque cited Service Contracts 57 (off Busuanga Island in the Palawan archipelago) and 72 (covering the Reed Bank area), which has been suspended since the Aquino administration pending a legal framework for its operation, as other officials of the present administration had earlier cited since last year. — Minde Nyl R. Dela Cruz