THE PHILIPPINES
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Rodrigo Duterte

Chinese state media hails Duterte’s ‘separation’ from US, but many on social media unconvinced

Some internet users think Philippines president is playing up to Beijing, with little realistic prospect of his nation severing ties with its traditional ally

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 2:39pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 2:39pm

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement of a “separation” from his country’s traditional ally the United States has been hailed as a diplomatic victory by state media in China, but many Chinese internet users have greeted his words with scepticism.

Duterte told a forum in Beijing on Thursday that he had realigned himself in China’s “ideological flow” because the US had lost militarily and economically and he might also forge ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There are three of us against the world - China, the Philippines and Russia,” he said.

‘We’re neighbours and blood brothers’: Xi tells Duterte as firebrand leader announces ‘separation’ from US

Duterte has been in Beijing this week for talks with senior Chinese leaders, amid strained ties between the two nations over their rival claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea. The two nations have also signed US$13.5 billion worth of deals during the trip, according to the Philippines trade secretary.

From the Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily to the popular tabloid the Global Times, photographs of Xi Jinping welcoming Duterte during his state visit were given prominent coverage in almost every newspaper on the mainland on Friday.

“The springtime of Sino-Philippine relationship has made the US and some Western media feeling chill to the bones,” the Global Times said.

Talks better than war in South China Sea, Duterte says

Many commenting on social media in China, however, were less convinced about an apparent U-turn in the Philippines’ foreign policy.

One person posted : “We Chinese people have seen more than enough false divorces to get cheap loans.” Another wrote: “China is not interested in going against the world.”

Many commenting thought it would be impossible for the Philippines to have a complete “separation from the US”, so Duterte was either “out of his mind”, or just paying lip service to his hosts in China.

Playing the US against China may prove a smart move for Rodrigo Duterte

Some even predicted Duterte’s policy would soon be discarded because of pro-US sentiment in the Philippines.

“Please take care, President Duterte. I’m afraid there will be a military coup or assassination waiting,” wrote one internet user.

Chinese state TV reporter Shui Junyi, who interviewed Duterte a few days ago, was also taken by surprise on social media by Duterte’s remarks.

He retweeted one post saying: “This comment … so shocking! What’s your name again, please? Who’d become the three brothers against the world?”

Shui then added one word: “Wow!”.