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Monday, January 2, 2017

Duterte backing off from US relations, cozying up to China

Manila -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (aka "The Killah in Manila") has threatened to terminate the decades-long alliance with the U.S.  after we criticized his bloody war on drugs that killed more than 5,000 people since he became president in June.

Now the island nation is moving towards China in an attempt to "normalize" relations after a territorial dispute, the country's ambassador to Beijing said Monday.

Duterte doesn't seem to like us very much, but he doesn't seem to like anyone very much. He has even gone so far as to throw a guy out of a helicopter because he was accused of kidnapping and Duterte thought it would be fun. But while yelling at the USA, he has been making overtures to China.

The new Philippine ambassador to China, Jose "Chito" Sta. Romana told the AFP the move represented a "strategic shift in our foreign policy. We were one-sidedly imbalanced in favor of the U.S.," Chito said.

"We are not abandoning our alliance with the U.S. . . . We are basically trying to normalize our relations with China."

Actually, they are trying to have it both ways, but once Trump takes office, things may change.

Beijing is claiming most of the South China Sea for themselves, despite competing claims from the Philippines and other Asian countries. However, a UN-backed tribunal ruled over the summer that China's claims have no legal standing--a strong victory for Manila, if you take anything the UN decides seriously.

But with Duterte's decision to set aside the territorial conflict in exchange for Chinese investment and aid, it gave Beijing a boost in its quest for more control over the strategically vital waters.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens with the Philippines and our relationship with their lunatic of a leader.