MANILA, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte suggested in an interview that China can become his country's most powerful ally.
Speaking in Manila on Monday to China's Xinhua News Agency prior to his four-day trip to China, Duterte lauded China's "good, sound policies, internal and external." He said his diplomatic visit, which will include a state dinner in Beijing and meetings with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, National People's Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang and representatives of the Bank Of China, is meant to build economic bridges with China.
Noting two million ethnic Chinese reside in the Philippines, Duterte said, "We might be asking for your help, asking the Chinese people to help Chinese people here. They are Filipinos but they are also Chinese. My grandfather is Chinese. It's only China (that) can help us."
His comments could be interpreted as a snub of the United States, from which Duterte has been distancing himself since he became president in June. In the interview, he noted China has been generous in promoting development in Southeast Asian countries, and offered gratitude to China for not criticizing his aggressive policy against illegal drugs in the Philippines, in contrast to some Western countries.
Duterte mentioned China's funding of a drug rehabilitation center in the Philippines, adding, "Some other countries know we are short of money, (but) instead of helping us, all they had to do was just to criticize. China never criticizes. They help us quietly, and I said that's why it's part of the sincerity of the people."