What does 'separation' from US mean to Philippines?

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte makes a speech during the Philippines - China Trade and Investment Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, October 20, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

BEIJING-This is what President Rodrigo Duterte's key Cabinet members have to say: Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.: "(It means) separation from the economic and defence dependence of the past."

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez: "I will let the official spokesperson speak on behalf of the President. But what I see is a positive move towards re-strengthening ties with Asian neighbours which historically have been our economic and trading partners for centuries.

The President has been establishing good rapport with Asian leaders like the ones he recently visited such as Laos, Indonesia, Brunei and now in China.

Other Asian countries are scheduled to be visited soon. The friendships regained are opening up deeper commitments in enhancing economic, trade and investment ties, reaffirming our vision of regional economic integration.

Duterte in China to promote economic ties

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his "separation" from the United States on Thursday, declaring that it had "lost" and he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks.
  • Duterte made his comments in China, where he is visiting with at least 200 business people to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance as relations with longtime ally the United States deteriorate.
  • His trade secretary, Ramon Lopez, said US$13.5 billion in deals would be signed Duterte's efforts to engage China, months after a tribunal ruling in the Hague over South China Sea disputes in favour of the Philippines, marks a reversal in foreign policy since the 71-year-old former mayor took office on June 30.
  • "America has lost now," Duterte told Chinese and Philippine business people at a forum in the Great Hall of the People, attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
  • "I've realigned myself in your ideological flow 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 added. "With that, in this venue, your honours, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States," Duterte said to applause.
  • "I have separated from them. So I will be dependent on you for all time. But do not worry. We will also help as you help us."
  • China has pulled out all the stops to welcome Duterte, including a marching band complete with batton-twirling band master at his official welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People, which most leaders do not get.
  • President Xi Jinping, meeting Duterte earlier in the day, called the visit a "milestone" in ties.
  • Xi told Duterte that China and the Philippines were brothers and they could "appropriately handle disputes", though he did not mention the South China Sea in remarks made in front of reporters.
  • "I hope we can follow the wishes of the people and use this visit as an opportunity to push China-Philippines relations back on a friendly footing and fully improve things," Xi said.
  • Following their meeting, during which Duterte said relations with China had entered a new "springtime", Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin said the South China Sea issue was not the sum total of relations.
  • "The two sides agreed that they will do what they agreed five years ago, that is to pursue bilateral dialogue and consultation in seeking a proper settlement of the South China Sea issue," Liu said.
  • China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about US$5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
  • Duterte's tone toward Beijing is in contrast to the language he has used against the United States, after being infuriated by US criticism of his bloody war on drugs.
  • He has called US President Barack Obama a "son of a b****"and told his to "go to hell" while alluding to severing ties with the old colonial power.
  • On Wednesday, to the cheers of hundreds of Filipinos in Beijing, Duterte said Philippine foreign policy was veering towards China. "I will not go to America anymore. We will just be insulted there," Duterte said.
  • "So time to say goodbye my friend."
  • Duterte on Wednesday said the South China Sea arbitration case would "take the back seat" during talks, and that he would wait for the Chinese to bring up the issue rather than doing so himself.
  • Xi said issues that could not be immediately be resolved should be set aside, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
  • China has welcomed the Philippines approaches, even as Duterte has vowed not to surrender any sovereignty to Beijing, which views the South China Sea Hague ruling as null and void.
  • China offered fresh praise for visiting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, lauding "friendly" relations as the combative leader reconfigures his country's diplomatic alliances.
  • Duterte is in China for a four-day trip that is expected to cement 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 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.
  • At a regular briefing Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing was pleased to move towards resolving the territorial dispute "through consultation and dialogue".
  • "This is how two friendly neighbours 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.
  • Duterte will meet top leaders including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang during his stay, and was also due to meet members of the Filipino community in Beijing later Wednesday.
  • On the eve of his arrival in Beijing, the firebrand former lawyer was quoted by China's official Xinhua news agency state media saying: "Only China can help us."
  • As Duterte has cosied up to Beijing, he has repeatedly denounced the US and President Barack Obama for criticising 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 neighbours over the strategically vital waters.
  • Tensions have risen between the US and China over Washington's so-called "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific, a move that Beijing says is intended to contain it.
  • In an editorial Wednesday, 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.

The highly successful meetings with top leaders of China, President Xi Jinping of China and Premier Li Kequiang have led to greater confidence in the future economic relationship of our two countries.

This trip resulted in several private business led agreements that summed up to US$13.5 billion of investment and financing agreements.

These are covered by MOAs (memorandum of agreements) signed yesterday Oct.20 and today, Oct 21.

The US$13.5 billion investments agreements would translate to an expected 2 million job generation in the next five years.

These are in the areas of industries, manufacturing, agribusiness, trade finance, hotels, telecom, tourism, transportation, ecozones, industrial parks and infrastructure projects.

Read also: Wrong for Philippines to cut ties with US due to alliance with China: Senator

The renewed friendships in this part of the world has opened huge opportunities for Philippines' trade and investment in the China and ASEAN market of over 1.9 billion people across the region.

We will maintain relations with our other partners but we would revive the stronger integration with our neighbours.

We share centuries of trading, similar culture and a better understanding with our region.

For China alone, they continue to be the Philippines' second major trading partner with US$17 billion value in total trade.

Our exports to China was US$6 billion in 2015 but this still has high growth potential as we establish better relations and considering China's total imports was around $2 trillion in 2015.

Another promising area again is investment from China. Their investment to the Philippines (Investment Promotion Agency- approved) dropped to only US$32 million in 2015.

But China's total outward investments was around US$130 billion in 2015.

In re-establishing a region of peace in Asia, many are more optimistic in seeing trade and investment levels soar to greater heights." Joint Statement of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia

"The president just gave a very important speech. The cabinet will move strongly and swiftly towards regional economic integration. This is why the president prioritized foreign trips to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Asia.

As a result, The Philippines has now opened its opportunities for trade and investment to a market of 1.8 billion people across the region. ASEAN economies have expressed interest in integration. China has committed to open its capital markets.

We will maintain relations with the west but we desire stronger integration with our neighbours. We share the culture and a better understanding with our region.

This regional integration is similar to what has been done in the EU and NAFTA in North America and Mercosur (sub-regional bloc) in South America. The Philippines is integrating with ASEAN China, Japan and South Korea.

In a way, Asian economic integration is long overdue compared with the regional economic integrations."

Compiled by Doris Dumlao-Abadilla in Beijing


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