Mark Collins – Philippines and the US: President Duterte off the Deep End in China

Further to these posts,

South China Sea Update: Scarborough Shoal, China and Philippines

New(ish) Philippines President Takes On US

matters have taken a stunning turn. It would seem President Duterte is not too bothered about Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and has it in enough for the Americans to turn wholeheartedly towards Beijing. If the president is truly serious this will put the US in a very ugly pickle (just this April, before the Philippine elections, the US secured an agreement to increase its military presence in the islands), especially in terms of any international solidarity vs China’s maritime claims. And what about the long-standing US/Philippines mutual defence treaty, scroll down here?

In China, Duterte announces split with US: ‘America has lost’

Rodrigo Duterte left no room for doubt about where his allegiance lies.

In a state visit aimed at cozying up to Beijing as he pushes away from Washington, the Philippine President announced his military and economic “separation” from the United States.

“America has lost now. I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow,” he told business leaders in Beijing on Thursday [Oct. 20]. “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 didn’t provide details about how he’d break away from the United States, or what the separation could entail.

US officials stressed the long history of diplomatic, military and financial ties between the two countries…

Relations between China and the Philippines had soured over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

But now Duterte is taking a different tack, pushing that issue to the background as he tries to forge closer ties with China…

Chinese President Xi Jingping welcomed Duterte with full military honors at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday.

He called the two countries “neighbors across the sea” and said they’d agreed to achieve “full improvement” in bilateral ties, state media reported.

The two leaders signed some 13 bilateral deals including pacts on trade, investment, tourism, crime and drug prohibition, according to China’s state news agency Xinhua.

However, there was no specific agreement about the South China Sea, where the two have overlapping maritime claims. They agreed to address the matter through talks, according to Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin.

Duterte’s pivot toward China comes as relations with long-time ally the United States are at an all-time low.

At a news conference in Laos in September, he called US President Barack Obama a son of a bitch, when asked what he would say if Obama was critical about his anti-drug efforts, which critics say violate human rights. Since Duterte took office, hundreds of drug dealers and users have been killed in police operations…

Earlier in October, President Duterte confirmed that his country would not participate in joint military drills with the US that are set for next year. He did say, however, that the treaty alliance with the US would remain intact.


Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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