Philippine president announces his ‘separation’ from the US

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his “separation” from the United States during a visit to Beijing on Thursday, saying he had realigned with China and would resolve any maritime disputes through talks. 

“In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte said at a forum attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, according to Reuters.

{mosads}”Both in military, not maybe social, but economics also. America has lost,” he said. “I will not go to America anymore. We will just be insulted there. … So time to say goodbye my friend.”

Duterte also floated the possibility of going to Russia to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin and creating a China-Philippines-Russia alliance. 

“I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way,” Duterte said. 

Duterte, who the Western media has compared to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, has called for a dramatic shift away from the U.S., its longtime ally, and toward China since he became president on June 30. 

He has also called President Obama a “son of a bitch” and told him to “go to hell.” But he has also challenged Trump to a fistfight for allegedly calling Filipinos “animals.” 

The shift comes after an international tribunal in the Hague that ruled that Beijing did not have historic rights to islands in the South China Sea, in a case brought by the previous Filipino administration. It also puts into question a deal signed by Duterte’s predecessor to allow the U.S. rotational access to military bases in the Philippines. 

Duterte’s trade secretary, Ramon Lopez, said $13.5 billion in deals would be signed during the trip to China. 

The White House played down Duterte’s remarks. 

“The U.S.-Philippines alliance is built on a 70-year history, rich people-to-people ties, including a vibrant Filipino-American diaspora, and a long list of shared security interests,” spokesman Ned Price told Reuters. 

“We also remain one of the Philippines’ strongest economic partners; the current stock of U.S. foreign direct investment stands above $4.7 billion,” he said. 

Duterte’s top economic policymakers later released a statement that walked back his remarks, calling Asian economic integration “long overdue” but that it did not mean the Philippines was turning its back on the West.

“We will maintain relations with the West but we desire stronger integration with our neighbors,” said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia in a joint statement, according to Reuters. “We share the culture and a better understanding with our region.”

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