Rodrigo Duterte heaped praise on China for not criticising his administration's deadly war on drugs, signalling a foreign policy tilt away from Washington DC in favour of Beijing. The president of the Philippines made the remarks on the eve of a four-day trip to China, which gets underway today (18 October).
Duterte's deadly crackdown on narcotics has seen as many as 3,600 people killed since he came to power on 30 June. The spate of extrajudicial deaths has led to rising concern in the international community, which in turn has provoked fury from Duterte.
The former Mayor of Davao City has lashed out at US President Barack Obama, branding him a "son of a whore" and telling him to "go to hell". He also branded the US, EU and UN "fools" and vowed to "humiliate" them with his questions if they accept an invitation to probe his war on drugs.
Recognising Beijing's support for his anti-narcotics efforts, Duterte said in an interview with Xinhua: "Some other countries know we are short of money, [but] instead of helping us, all they had to do was just to criticise. China never criticises. They help us quietly. and I said that's why it's part of the sincerity of the people."
As Duterte takes hundreds of the Philippines' business elite to China, he pounced on the opportunity to strengthen ties between the two countries. "All that I would need to do is just to talk and get a firm handshake from the officials and say that we are Filipinos and we are ready to cooperate with you, to help us in building our economy and building our country." Deals worth billions of dollars are expected to be unveiled during the trip, according to reports in the Philippine media.
He added that there are around 2 million people of Chinese origin living and working in the Philippines. "So we might be asking for your help, asking the Chinese people to help Chinese people here. They are Filipinos but they are also Chinese," Duterte said. "My grandfather is Chinese ... It's only China (that) can help us," he added.
Last month, Duterte challenged the US and EU to go ahead and halt aid to the Philippines if they are not happy with his war on drugs. "If you think it is high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it," the outspoken leader said.