Since his ascent to power, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has overseen a remarkable shift in his country’s foreign policy, particularly towards China. The tough-talking Filipino leader, who is as notorious abroad as he is popular at home, has described China as a friendly and generous nation, a partner for national development and a potential military ally for the Philippines.
During his high-profile state visit to China last year, when he snubbed both Washington and Tokyo in favour of Beijing, Duterte declared his “separation” from the United States, the Philippines’ sole treaty ally, and offered to realign his country with China’s “ideological flow”.
Not short of hyperbole, he sought a “new world order” where the Philippines is in alliance with China and Russia “against the world”. Along the way, Duterte even claimed Chinese ancestry to impress his hosts, who rolled out the red carpet and lavished their guest with utmost respect and a generous package of economic aid.