by Tyler Durden
October 20, 2016
After the relentless barrage of verbal abuse and negative sentiment
Barack Obama and the US, coupled with increasingly
complimentary statements toward Beijing, it was only a matter of
time before Philippine President
Rodrigo Duterte put an end
to the speculation if and when he would officially pivot the
country's long-held diplomatic alliance away from the US and toward
He did so today when, during a visit to
China's capital, Duterte announced his "separation" from the United
States, declaring he had realigned with China as the two agreed to
resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks.
Duterte is currently in Beijing, where he is visiting with at least
200 business people to pave the way for what he calls a new
commercial alliance as relations with longtime ally Washington
"In this venue, your honors, in this
venue, I announce my separation from the United States," Duterte
told Chinese and Philippine business people, to applause, at a
forum in the Great Hall of the People attended by Chinese Vice
Premier Zhang Gaoli.
"Both in military, not maybe social,
but economics also. America has lost."
Duterte's efforts to engage China,
months after a tribunal in the Hague ruled that Beijing did not have
historic rights to the South China Sea in a case brought by the
previous administration in Manila, marks a reversal in foreign
policy since the 71-year-old former mayor took office on June 30.
As Reuters adds, his trade secretary,
Ramon Lopez, said $13.5 billion in deals would be signed during the
An even more dramatic admission came moments later when Duterte also
voiced his desire to expand the newly hatched Asian axis to include
Russia as well.
"I've realigned myself in your
ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to
(President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of
us against the world - China, Philippines and Russia.
only way," Duterte told his Beijing audience.
Still, in keeping with the semi
flip-flopping nature of his administration, a few hours after
Duterte's speech, his top economic policymakers released a statement
saying that, while Asian economic integration was "long overdue",
that 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.
"We share the culture and a better
understanding with our region. The Philippines is integrating
with ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea."
Unlike Obama's final arrival in China in the late summer which was
met several very embarrassing logistical and diplomatic snafus,
China pulled out all the stops to welcome Duterte, including a
marching band complete with baton-twirling band master at his
official greeting ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People,
which is not extended to most leaders.
President Xi Jinping, meeting
Duterte earlier in the day, called the visit a "milestone" in ties.
Xi told Duterte that China and the
Philippines were brothers and they could "appropriately handle
disputes", though he did not mention the South China Sea in remarks
made in front of reporters.
"I hope we can follow the wishes of
the people and use this visit as an opportunity to push
China-Philippines relations back on a friendly footing and fully
improve things," Xi said.
Following their meeting, during which
Duterte said relations with China had entered a new "springtime",
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said the South
China Sea issue was not the sum total of relations.
"The two sides agreed that they will
do what they agreed five years ago, that is to pursue bilateral
dialogue and consultation in seeking a proper settlement of the
South China Sea issue," Liu said.
As a result of Duterte's pivot, China
now has a key supporter in the ongoing geopolitical disagreement
involving the contested territory in the South China Sea. China
claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about
$5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.
...also have claims.
In 2012, China
seized the disputed
Scarborough Shoal and denied Philippine
fishermen access to its fishing grounds.
Liu said the shoal was not mentioned and he did not answer a
question about whether Philippine fishermen would be allowed there.
He said both countries had agreed on coastguard and fisheries
cooperation, but did not give details.
Duterte on Wednesday said the South China Sea arbitration case would
"take the back seat" during talks, and that he would wait for the
Chinese to bring up the issue rather than doing so himself.
Xi said issues that could not be
immediately be resolved should be set aside, according to the
Chinese foreign ministry.
Meanwhile, anti-US sentiment is building in the Philippines, which
is also not surprising, after Duterte previously called Barack Obama
a "son of a bitch" and told his to "go to hell", while alluding to
severing ties with the old colonial power.
On Wednesday, to the cheers of hundreds
of Filipinos in Beijing, Duterte said Philippine foreign policy was
veering towards China.
"I will not go to America anymore.
We will just be insulted there," Duterte said. "So time to say
goodbye my friend."
As we reported earlier, about 1,000
anti-U.S. protesters gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Manila
calling for the removal of U.S. troops from the southern island of
As the standoff escalated, the local
police ran over protesters who were preparing to storm the embassy.
As a result of this dramatic collapse in US-Philippine relations,
the next US president will have their hands full with not only the
rapidly escalation standoff between Russia and the US in Syria, but
will be rushing the mend relations with one of the oldest US allies
in the Pacific rim...