The new leader of the Philippines is changing with the wind on the alliance the country has had with the United States for some time now.
Duterte was sworn in as the 16th President of the Philippines yesterday – replacing President Benigno Aquino III.
The ex-Davao City Mayor has made it clear that he intends to reassess his country’s close ties with Washington.
Duterte has been lambasted as the “Donald Trump” of the Philippines with his coarse defiance of the traditional ways of the country. Many have compared his use of words as that of a street fighter and not of a statesman.
In the later part of May this year Duterte said: “I want everybody to know that we will be charting a course of our own.” The Philippines “will not be dependent on America. And it will be a line that is not intended to please anybody but the Filipino interests.”
Meanwhile, Duterte has signaled his desire to expand economic ties with Beijing, citing a Chinese offer to build a massive railway system in the country.
In a June 21 speech, Duterte seemingly taunted Washington, saying: “Can you match the offer? Because if you cannot match the offer I will accept the goodwill of China.”
China has given special attention to the wishes of Duterte’s plans for his country. Many believe China is ‘sucking up’ to the Philippines in the wake of the Prague tribunal on the South China Sea dispute.
China Confirms Closer Ties to Philippines
China feels it may lose, but has given notice to the media that they intend to ignore any ruling given on the disputed waters.
Recent China media confirmed to the Philippines, “Beijing can offer more investment and assistance to Manila.”
The same media release said: “We are willing to work together with the new Philippine government on this end.” That specific quote came in a press conference involving Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.
The US has given signs that it intends to continue its large buildup in Guam, a possible retreat location in case of a massive backlash from the Philippines.