China cosies up to the Philip­pines

The Myanmar Times - - World -

RE­LA­TIONS be­tween China and the Philip­pines are im­prov­ing “beau­ti­fully” un­der Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, Bei­jing’s en­voy has said as Mr Duterte warms to China and Rus­sia fol­low­ing US crit­i­cism of his bloody war on crime.

Am­bas­sador Zhao Jian­hua of­fered ef­fu­sive praise for Mr Duterte in a speech at an em­bassy re­cep­tion yes­ter­day, say­ing China “firmly sup­ports” his anti-drugs cam­paign that has prompted con­dem­na­tion of al­leged ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings.

Mr Duterte has re­jected the crit­i­cism, in­clud­ing by long-time se­cu­rity ally the United States, and said he would seek closer eco­nomic ties with China and Rus­sia.

“The clouds are fad­ing away. The sun is ris­ing over the hori­zon and will shine beau­ti­fully on the new chap­ter of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions,” Mr Zhao said.

Mr Zhao said the two neigh­bours had been en­gag­ing in “friendly in­ter­ac­tions” since Mr Duterte took of­fice nearly three months ago.

This was in stark con­trast to fraught ties un­der Mr Duterte’s pre­de­ces­sor Benigno Aquino, whose gov­ern­ment lodged a case at an in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal in 2013 seek­ing to out­law Bei­jing’s ter­ri­to­rial claims over most of the South China Sea.

In July the tri­bunal re­jected most of China’s claims as well as its ex­ten­sive is­land-build­ing in dis­puted waters.

“The Chi­nese side fully un­der­stands and firmly sup­ports the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pol­icy that [pri­ori­tises] the fight against drug crimes,” said Mr Zhao, adding China would as­sist in the drug war.

Mr Zhao also said China would in­crease in­vest­ments in in­fra­struc­ture in the Philip­pines, as well as trade and tourism.

The Philip­pines, a for­mer Amer­i­can colony, had un­til Mr Duterte been one of the United States’ old­est al­lies in Asia.

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