Duterte praises China

‘Crit­i­cism all pro­pa­ganda pro­duced by the West’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BEIJING: Vis­it­ing Philippine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte had praise for China yes­ter­day, set­ting aside a mar­itime dis­pute as the com­bat­ive leader re­con­fig­ures his coun­try’s diplo­matic al­liances. The Asian gi­ant was “good”, he said. “It has never in­vaded a piece of my coun­try all these gen­er­a­tions,” Duterte added in an ap­par­ent com­par­i­son to the Philip­pines’ for­mer colo­nial ruler the United States. “Dur­ing the Cold War, China was por­trayed as the bad guy,” he added. “And all of these years, what we have read in our books in school were all pro­pa­ganda pro­duced by the West.”

Duterte is in China for a four-day trip that is ex­pected to con­firm his tilt away from Washington and to­wards Beijing’s sphere of in­flu­ence. For­eign pol­icy un­der Duterte has dra­mat­i­cally shifted from that pur­sued un­der pre­de­ces­sor Benigno Aquino, who took Beijing to an in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal over its ex­ten­sive ter­ri­to­rial claims in the South China Sea and won a re­sound­ing vic­tory.

The move in­fu­ri­ated Beijing. But Duterte, who took of­fice in June shortly be­fore the tri­bunal rul­ing, has made a point of not flaunt­ing the out­come, even though China seized Scar­bor­ough Shoal-a fish­ing ground within the Philip­pines’ ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone-in 2012. The judg­ment, Duterte said, was “a piece of pa­per with four cor­ners”. “The ar­bi­tral award gives us the right. China has the his­tor­i­cal right. And they’re in­sist­ing. In this sit­u­a­tion, do we ar­gue, or do we just talk? I would say, let us put it (off ) to some other day.”

As Duterte has co­zied up to Beijing, he has re­peat­edly de­nounced the United States and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama for crit­i­ciz­ing his deadly war on crime. He has also sus­pended joint US-Philippine pa­trols in the South China Sea, and has threat­ened an end to joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises. The South China Sea is of in­tense in­ter­est to Washington and it has re­peat­edly spo­ken out on the var­i­ous ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes be­tween China and its neigh­bors over the strate­gi­cally vi­tal wa­ters.

Ris­ing ten­sions

Ten­sions have risen be­tween the US and China over Washington’s so­called “pivot” to the Asia-Pa­cific, a move that Beijing says is in­tended to con­tain it. Duterte will meet top lead­ers in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Premier Li Ke­qiang dur­ing his stay. Hours be­fore he spoke, Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing told a reg­u­lar brief­ing that Beijing was pleased to move to­wards re­solv­ing the ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute “through con­sul­ta­tion and di­a­logue”.

“This is how two friendly neigh­bors should treat each other,” she added. “Any­one who truly wishes for peace, sta­bil­ity, de­vel­op­ment and pros­per­ity in the Asia Pa­cific” should wel­come Duterte’s visit. In an editorial yes­ter­day, China’s na­tion­al­ist Global Times news­pa­per said Washington had treated Manila “as a pawn”, ad­ding Duterte was now “re­design­ing Philippine for­eign pol­icy based on Philippine in­ter­ests”. Duterte has said his China trip will fo­cus on pro­mot­ing eco­nomic ties.

The Philip­pines is hop­ing, among other things, that Beijing will re­peal a ban on imports of its bananas-an eco­nomic sanc­tion in­tended to pun­ish Manila for its South China Sea stance. Hua said Wed­nes­day an­nounce­ments on in­fra­struc­ture co­op­er­a­tion and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment projects could be ex­pected dur­ing the Philippine leader’s visit. Beijing has also en­thu­si­as­ti­cally en­dorsed Duterte’s war on drugs, which has seen more than 3,700 peo­ple killed and led the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court to warn that those responsible could face charges. Hua praised Duterte yes­ter­day for “rolling out poli­cies to en­sure so­cial or­der and pub­lic se­cu­rity”, ad­ding that the two sides were al­ready in close com­mu­ni­ca­tion about co­op­er­at­ing on drug con­trol and anti-crime is­sues. —AFP

BEIJING: Philippine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte ad­dresses mem­bers of the Philippine com­mu­nity. —AP

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