Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is engaging in direct talks with China to resolve their dispute over man-made islands in the South China Sea, signaling a potential failure of American influence at the hands of the Kerry State Department and the Obama Administration. (NY Times)
The announcement came during Mr. Duterte’s state visit to Beijing, as he repeatedly sought to distance the Philippines from the United States, a treaty ally. Mr. Duterte, speaking to business leaders shortly after meeting with Mr. Xi, openly declared a “separation from the United States.”
He refrained, however, from saying that he would revoke a 70-year-old treaty alliance with Washington and made no indication of doing what China would like most: scrapping an accord that gives the United States access to five military bases in the Philippines.
“Though we come to your country close to winter, it is the springtime of our relationship,” Duterte told his Chinese hosts.
The first term president explained that the separation would involve the “military, not maybe social, but economics also. America has lost.” “I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow, and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin,” he continued.
Last month the relationship with our closest Southeast Asian ally was strained when Duterte spoke out against the Obama Administration signaling concerns over the new president’s hyper-aggressive anti-drug policies which include extra-judicial killings and bounties on the heads of corrupt cops.
A scheduled side-meeting between Obama and Duterte at the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was cancelled after Duterte insulted Obama as a preemptive measure to warn the American president to not raise concerns over his anti-drug dealer policies.
“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum,” he told AFP. “We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me.”
The next day, Duterte’s office issued a statement of regret over the comments. “Our primary intention is to chart an independent foreign policy while promoting closer ties with all nations, especially the U.S.,” he said in the statement. “We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries.”