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Duterte to strengthen ties with China, Russia

President Duterte is moving to forge closer alliances with Russia and China, traditional rivals of the United States, after getting irritated with latter’s alleged interference with local affairs.

Apart from his planned frequent trips to China, the President has bared plans to travel to Russia to revitalize the country’s trade and investment relations.

Duterte said he already held preliminary talks with Russian and Chinese leaders on how to boost economic cooperation in various sectors.

“I will not break ties but we will open up alliances with China and (Russia). I had a good talk with Prime Minister (Dmitri) Medvedev. They are waiting for me,” the President said in a press conference after the oath-taking of new Malacanang Press Corps officers at the Palace.

“After China, I think I will go to Japan and I’ll go to Russia. Never mind about the ratings. I will open up the Philippines for them to do business, alliances of trade and commerce,” he added.

Duterte said boosting economic cooperation on telecommunications, shipping and airlines was among the topics he discussed with Medvedev on the sidelines of a recent regional summit.

“I told him I’m about to cross the rubicon between me and the United States at least for the six years. I would need your help in everything – trade, commerce and I will open up,” the President said.

Despite a lingering territorial dispute in the South China Sea, the President is also seeking closer trade and investment relations between the Philippines and China.

“I have talked to Xi Jinping. I’m going to China. I will open up all avenues of trade and commerce. They can come in,” Duterte said.

Duterte said since the Constitution has yet to be amended, he could give Chinese investors “60 years” to lease land in the country for their businesses. “It’s not a matter to hinder investments, it’s a matter of principle that my land should only be for my people,” he said.

Duterte also expressed readiness to open the airline sector to investors from Russia and China amid complaints some airline companies are causing inconvenience to passengers. He told the business especially the airline firms to “observe humanity” in extending service to the public.

“You provide everything, all public convinced,” Duterte told airline firms. “If you go bankrupt, I can invite China and Russia to put a new airline here,” he added.

While he is vigorously seeking trade cooperation with other nations, the President ruled out any “military alliances” especially with the United Sates in dealing with South China Sea.

“If America wants to go war about China Sea, he can have his day. I will not participate. I will not join a war that would only destroy my country because we are not really up to arms of the opposite side. Nothing will happen to us,” he said.

He affirmed that the government will no longer join joint sea patrols with foreign countries to avoid raising tension in the disputed water. (GENALYN D. KABILING)