Philippines, China forge agreement on illegal drugs

The day after the Philippines president announced his country's "separation" from the United States, members of his cabinet have attempted to underline that he was suggesting less dependence, rather than total.

The countries also agreed that "bilateral defense and military cooperation are important components of bilateral relations", calling for greater exchanges in such areas as humanitarian assistance and disaster alleviation.

Duterte on Saturday gave a series of comments to clarify those remarks.

He recently said he would end joint military exercises with American troops and told US President Barack Obama he could "go to hell" after US criticism over his bloody war against drugs.

Duterte raised eyebrows on Thursday when he announced his separation from the United States in terms of both military and economic ties while speaking to Chinese and Philippine business people in the Great Hall of People in Beijing. "But we definitely won't stop the trade and investment activities with the West, specifically the United States".

The firebrand leader signalled on Thursday during his 4-day state visit to Beijing that he announced a "separation" from the United States in both military and economic aspects in favor of China and Russian Federation.

Duterte arrived in China on Tuesday and he leaves Friday.

Duterte's tone towards China is in stark contrast to the language he has used against the United States, after being infuriated by US criticism of his bloody war on drugs.

In his first trip to China since taking office in late June, Duterte refrained from dwelling on the territorial disputes that had damaged bilateral ties.

What he meant by his remarks in China, Duterte said, was ending a Philippine foreign policy that closely leaned toward the U.S.

Duterte also said he would never visit the United States.

"The U.S. has a very strong commitment to the Philippines".

"Obviously any relationship is one of mutuality and we will continue to discuss that with our Philippine counterparts", he told reporters on a flight to Turkey.

Duterte has said he did not want to embroil the Philippines in an unwinnable war with China, which could instead be tapped as a major trading partner and source of development funds.

On Wednesday, Duterte further distanced his country from its longtime ally the United States regarding foreign policy.

"What is unfolding before us must be considered a national tragedy, which does not need to happen", he said.

"We have always developed relations with other countries in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness, mutually win-win, not aimed at, not excluding and not affecting other countries developing normal relations with each other".

Over the past years, China has claimed most of the South China Sea, and the ruling in favor of Philippines could have been instrumental for the United States, who supports free navigation and denies such claims to be acceptable including other countries.

China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about $US5 trillion ($6.52 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes every year. But it made no mention of the July ruling by an worldwide arbitration tribunal at The Hague rejecting China's sweeping claims in the South China Sea - a strong reflection of Beijing's desire to curb Japanese and US intervention on the issue and to dismiss the ruling.



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