During his visit to Beijing, the Filipino president told Chinese business executives in the Great Hall of the People, “I will be dependent on you for all time.” Manila and Beijing sign US$ 13.5 billion worth of deals, including 13 agreements and memoranda of understanding. US official describes the US as “baffled” by Duterte’s comments, whilst Filipino trade secretary says “we are not stopping trade, investment with America”.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte declared his “separation” from the United States at an investment conference in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing where he is on a state visit.
“I announce my separation from the United States. Both in military, not maybe social, but economics also. America has lost,” said Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte in a stunning statement.
“I have separated from them. So I will be dependent on you for all time. But do not worry. We will also help as you help us,” he told the Chinese business executives present.
Duterte’s remarks confirm a foreign policy shift that he had suggested for some time whereby Manila would loosen its relations with Washington and improve its ties with Beijing.
The two sides also signed US$ 13.5 billion worth of deals, which include 13 agreements and memoranda of understanding, from trade and investment to narcotics controls, maritime security and infrastructure.
The Filipino leader said he hoped the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could play a role in the economic development of the Philippines, whilst China considers Manila an important partner in its "One belt, one road" development plan.
Filipino Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said his country’s trade with the Asian economic giant could reach US$ 60 billion in five years.
In his address, Duterte added, “I have realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to [President Vladimir] Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way”.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby described the US as “baffled” by Duterte’s comments, which are “inexplicably at odds with the very close relationship that we have with the Filipino people, as well as the government”.
“The president did not talk about separation,” Filipino Trade Minister Ramon Lopez told CNN Philippines in Beijing. “In terms of economic [ties], we are not stopping trade, investment with America.”
Nevertheless, one of the deals calls for a ‘Joint Coastal Guard Committee on Maritime Cooperation’ between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
The region has long been the scene of a dispute between ASEAN countries and China.
In July, the Hague Court slammed Beijing’s aggressive policies upon Manila’s request, but Duterte said the tribunal’s ruling was “a piece of paper with four corners” so “let us put it [off] to some other day.”