Repeating his description of US president Barack Obama as a “son of a whore,” and heralding a new “springtime” for the relationship between the Philippines and China, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte declared an end to his country’s strategic alignment with the United States and pledged cooperation with Beijing.
“America has lost now,” Duterte told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, during a state visit to line up political and economic support from China. “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.”
Since taking office, Duterte has played nice with Beijing, putting the Philippines’ claim to a disputed, Chinese-occupied reef in the South China Sea on the back burner. He has also taken a strident position against the United States,which relies on five naval bases in the Philippines for its presence in region, a cornerstone of Obama’s heralded “pivot” toward Asia.
In turn, China has praised Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, which has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings.
The US-bashing could come with a cost that eventually forces Duterte to soften his position. But his Oct. 20 comments during the state visit left little room for ambiguity about his allegiances for now.
“With that, in this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte said to applause, according to a report from Reuters.