Duterte: ‘China just wants to be friends with us’

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, April 2, said Beijing just wants to become a friend of the Philippines in lieu of defending his administration’s relationship with the country.

Duterte, since taking post as the highest official in the country, has set aside Manila’s dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea to foster stronger and closer ties with China — a move that has, in turn, hurt the Philippines’ long-standing alliance with the United States.

According to Duterte, he turned to China because of the American criticism to his war on drugs.

“You know… China just wants to be friend with us. Binigyan tayo ng baril, binigyan tayo ng bala. Pumunta ako doon because America failed to deliver what we ordered (You know… China just wants to be friend with us. They gave us arms, ammunition. I went there because America failed to deliver what we ordered),” he said at a campaign rally of PDP-Laban in Malabon City.

Duterte also said he did not mention several projects including his infrastructure project when he was doing presidential campaign because he was not sure if China would back him.

“There were so many things I never mentioned — itong Build Build Build because I was not sure if China will deal with me when I become president. It was only when I went there and talked to them pati sa Russia, ang Amerikano naman nagdududa (There were so many things I never mentioned, including the Build Build Build program because I was not if China will deal with me when I become president. It was only when I went there and talked to them and Russia that the Americans started to doubt),” he said.

Duterte’s statement about the country’s relationship with China under his administration was in response to the concerns about Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

The presence of a large number of Chinese vessels surrounding Pag-asa Island has been recently sighted and reported by the Philippine military.

Duterte said the Philippines cannot match China’s military power that’s why no confrontations have been made.

“If I go to war pupulpugin ang Navy ko in a matter of minutes. Kung makipag-gyera ako sa China, in 7 minutes yung missile nila aabot ng Manila (If I go to war my Navy will be crushed in a matter of minutes. If I wage a war with China, in 7 minutes their missile will reach Manila),” he said. 

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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