Philippines: Duterte seeks ‘strategic shift’ from US to China: envoy

  • The Philippines is tilting away from its traditional ally the United States towards China in a bid to “normalise” relations following a longstanding territorial dispute, the country’s incoming ambassador to Beijing said on 2 Jan 17.
  • Manila has been one of Washington’s most loyal allies in Asia, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to end the decades-long alliance after the US criticised his bloody war on drugs that has killed over 5,000 people since he took office in Jun 16.
  • His fiery rhetoric against the US has been followed by overtures to China as he has sought to assuage Beijing’s concerns over Manila’s competing claims to the South China Sea. The incoming envoy, a former Beijing-based journalist, said Manila was open to working with China to access resources in the disputed region.
  • The new Philippine ambassador to China, Jose “Chito” Sta. Romana, told AFP the move represented “a strategic shift in our foreign policy”. “We were one-sidedly imbalanced in favour of the US. We are not abandoning our alliance with the US…. We are basically trying to normalise our relations with China,” he said.

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