Duterte claims China visit about economics, not arms

Philippines president tells Tokyo economic forum that visit to China focused on economic cooperation, not military matters

Duterte claims China visit about economics, not arms

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Philippines president assured Japan’s business community Wednesday that his recent visit to China focused on economic cooperation and not military matters.

Kyodo news agency quoted Rodrigo Duterte as insisting at the Philippine Economic Forum in Tokyo that last week’s visit to Beijing did not involve discussions "about arms", "stationing of troops" and "alliances, military or otherwise".

"I would like to assure you that all there was economics... What happened really there was just a few platform[s] where investments could come in," he said.

“I want to be friends with China. [But] I do not need the arms. I do not want missiles established in my country."

In the past year a long-running dispute between Japan and China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea has raised the risk of an unintended military clash Asia’s two largest economies.

The Philippines and China, meanwhile, have shown a desire to mend fences after a July 12 award in Manila's favor by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague dealt a blow to China's extensive claims in the sea.

Duterte’s visit to Japan also comes after a succession of outbursts against the United States -- a long-time ally of both Asian countries -- along with talk of forging links with Beijing and Moscow.

On Wednesday, Duterte again reiterated that he does not want foreign troops in his country, which like Japan hosts U.S. military personnel.

"I want, maybe in the next two years, my country freed of the presence of foreign military troops. I want them out," Duterte said. "If I have to revise or abrogate agreements, executive agreements, I will."

Duterte also underlined, “if there is one thing I would like to prove to America and to everybody, it is that there is such a thing as the dignity of the Filipino people."

He vowed to “never allow our dignity and honor to be just like a doormat before the international public”.

“So I may have ruffled the feelings of some, but that is how it is," he added.

Since Duterte announced his intention to “separate” from the U.S. in Beijing, Japanese diplomats and other officials have been left in uncertainty about exactly what he meant and how Tokyo might be expected to respond.

Under Duterte’s predecessor, Japan had been invited to use Philippine bases to fly patrols over disputed islands.

Japan recently loaned the Philippines five patrol-trainer aircraft and ten patrol boats, the first of which arrived in Philippine waters in August.

Duterte is due to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday.

Last Mod: 26 Ekim 2016, 13:33
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