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Filipinos back government on China dispute, but want more diplomacy

While most Filipinos say that their government should not yield to to Chinese pressure in the South China Sea, others say that Manila could improve its diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue.

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Protesters shout slogans while staging a die-in protest against the port call made by the US submarine USS North Carolina at the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines, last week.

Bullit Marquez/AP

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As a territorial row between China and the Philippines continues in the South China Sea – known here as the West Philippine Sea – Filipinos are nervously gauging how that will impact relations between the two countries.

Last week China denied it was increasing military readiness one month into a stand-off, which started April 10 after the Philippine Navy boarded Chinese fishing boats allegedly-poaching near the Scarborough Shoal. 

While most Filipinos say that their government is correct in not yielding to Chinese pressure over its claims to the South China Sea, and there has been something of a cooling-off in recent days, others say that Manila could better manage the finer points of its diplomacy and engage the country's Chinese-Filipino community to build bridges with mainland Chinese.

"Both sides have sought to de-escalate the immediate problem by imposing a fishing ban in the area," says Aileen Baviera, professor of Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines. However, the root of the dispute remains, she adds. "The conflicting claims on the West Philippine Sea are still there."

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