Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday (Oct 24), on the eve of his visit to Japan, that he has no plan to forge a military alliance with any country other than the United States, downplaying concerns over his veering toward China.
“The alliances are alive, it is there,” the Philippine leader said, referring to the Philippines’ longest standing ally, the United States. “There should be no worry about changes of alliances. I do not need to have alliances with other nations.”
Mr Duterte added that he only plans to have an “alliance of trade and commerce” with China.
These remarks to a group of Japanese reporters came after he announced amid a visit to China last week his “separation from the United States, both in military, not maybe social, but economics also” and suggested his country would be much better off aligning itself with China.
“America has lost. I realign myself in your ideological flow,” he told his Chinese hosts at a business forum.
“And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines, and Russia. It’s the only way,” he said then.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella later downplayed the president’s remarks in China, saying he was merely “asserting the imperative to separate the nation from dependence on the US and the West, and rebalance economic and military relations with our Asian (China, Japan and South Korea) neighbours and the ASEAN community.”
The populist leader had already declared there will be no more joint military exercises with the United States, with which the Philippines has a mutual defence treaty.
Japanese government sources said earlier Monday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to call for Mr Duterte to repair his government’s strained ties with the United States when they meet later this week in Tokyo.
Japan has been concerned over the strain on US-Philippine relations from Mr Duterte’s repeated anti US comments and the possible impact on stability in the South China Sea, where China is engaging in military expansion.
The talks between the leaders, likely to take place on Wednesday, will be most closely watched for whether Mr Duterte expresses a willingness to continue cooperating with Japan and the United States, which seek to halt China’s expansionary activities.
Source: TODAY Online