Philippine President Duterte announces ‘separation’ from US

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Themorningbellbd.com desk, October 20: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he was announcing his “separation” from the United States.

Duterte made the comment at a business forum in the presence of Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People during a four-day state visit to China.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing as they look to boost trade and build closer ties.mr-duterte-has-brought-a-large-trade-entourage-with-him-to-china

Mr Duterte arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a four-day visit.

China and the Philippines are involved in a bitter territorial dispute over islands in the South China Sea.

But the visit is seen as a pivot by the Philippines towards China and Russia and away from the US, its former colonial ruler and long-time ally.

Mr Duterte attended a welcome ceremony at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

He and President Xi will preside over several trade deals. He will also be meeting Premier Li Keqiang and National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang, and attend a state banquet.

The relationship between China and the Philippines had worsened in recent years as both claim the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

The dispute reached a peak in July when an international tribunal sided with Manila and rejected Beijing’s claims.

Though he maintained a blustery position towards Beijing during his presidential campaign, Mr Duterte sounded a note of reconciliation shortly after taking power.

At the same time, Mr Duterte has said he would end joint-military exercises with the US, admonished the US for criticising him over his brutal war against drugs that has been linked with thousands of extrajudicial killings, and said US President Barack Obama could “go to hell”.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte attends a news conference during his visit in Beijing, China, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee
President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte attends a news conference during his visit in Beijing, China, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

In interviews with Chinese media ahead of his visit, he spoke of mending relations and the need for help from Beijing. He has said he does not intend to bring up the South China Sea issue during his visit.

“It is a defining moment of my presidency to open frontiers of friendship and cooperation,” he told state broadcaster CCTV, adding that he wanted to “totally erase” the “dark spots” in their relationship.

In response China has hailed his trip as “a new starting-point” for bilateral relations.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters earlier this week: “We are ready and willing to reach out to the Philippine people for friendship and cooperation.”

Source: Agencies