Philippine foreign policy is set to undergo a dramatic shift with President Rodrigo Duterte at the helm of the change, which will take the Southeast Asian nation away from its traditional ally and former colonial ruler, the United States, toward erstwhile regional rival China.
On a four-day trip to China, Duterte signaled Wednesday that Philippines’ “foreign policy veers now towards” China, ahead of a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday. He added, “No more American interference. No more American exercises.”
“Your stay in my country was for your own benefit. So time to say goodbye, my friend,” Duterte said, as he addressed the Filipino community in Beijing Wednesday . “I will not go to America anymore. I will just be insulted there.”
Referring to U.S. President Barack Obama as a “son of a whore,” again, he clarified, “What kept us from China was not our own making. I will charter a new course.”
China and Philippines have been at odds over the controversial South China Sea, where the U.S backs the latter. However, Duterte’s new government wants to steer clear of Western support in the region and sidelined the issue in negotiations with the Asian power.
The United States, as well as the International Criminal Court, have denounced the killings of more than 3,700 people as a part of Duterte’s campaign to clear Philippines of drugs and crime after he took office in late June this year.
Contrary to the U.S.’s position on Duterte’s extrajudicial crackdown on crime, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, said Wednesday that Beijing “appreciates President Duterte’s efforts to crack down on drug crimes and improve social security with the fundamental interests and well-being of his country and people in mind,” Bloomberg reported.
“China and the Philippines are returning to the right path of properly handling relevant issues through bilateral dialogue and consultation regarding the South China Sea issue,” Hua said. “Friendly neighbors are supposed to get along with each other in this way.”