[10/20/16] Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte declared his “separation” from longstanding ally the United States in Beijing on Thursday, as he rebalances his country’s diplomacy towards China.
Duterte is in China for a four-day trip seen as confirming his tilt away from Washington and towards Beijing’s sphere of influence — and its deep pockets.
“I announce my separation from the United States,” he said to applause at a meeting in the Chinese capital.
“America does not control our lives. Enough bullshit,” he added in a rambling speech that flipped between languages.
“How can you be the most powerful industrial country when you owe China and you are not paying it?”
His comments came after he met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square, with the two men pledging to enhance trust and friendship, while playing down a maritime dispute.
Xi called the two countries “neighbours across the sea” with “no reason for hostility or confrontation”, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Under Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino the two countries were at loggerheads over the South China Sea — where Beijing has built a series of artificial islands — but since taking office in June the new head of state has changed course.
In a statement, the Chinese foreign ministry cited Xi as telling Duterte their emotional foundation of friendly good neighbourliness was unchanged, and difficult topics of discussion “could be shelved temporarily”.
Duterte called the meeting “historic”, it added.
His visit to Beijing capped a series of recent declarations blasting the US and President Barack Obama.
Addressing the Filipino community in Beijing Wednesday, the firebrand leader said the Philippines had gained little from its long alliance with the US, its former colonial ruler.
He also repeated his denunciation of Obama as a “son of a whore”.