LIMA, Peru – President Duterte met the man he calls his hero, Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Saturday and unburdened his gripes about US ‘‘hypocrisy,’’ ‘‘bullying,’’ and foreign wars.
Duterte, who has publicly expressed his admiration for the Russian leader, said the Cold War had stood between their two countries as the Philippines, a former US colony, was historically identified with the West.
But that has changed now that he is president.
Since taking office in June, the foul-mouthed Duterte has upended the Philippines’ historical military alliance with the United States, repeatedly saying he was shifting toward China and Russia as he embarks on an independent foreign policy.
‘‘It was good (while) it lasted,’’ Duterte told Putin of what he has called his ‘‘separation’’ from the United States.
‘‘Of late, I see a lot of these Western nations bullying small nations. And not only that, they are into so much hypocrisy,’’ he said during their 45-minute meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the Peruvian capital Lima.
‘‘And they seem to start a war but are afraid to go to war. That is what is wrong with America and the others.
They’ve been waging wars in so many places – in Vietnam, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq for one single reason that there was a weapon of mass destruction, and there was none.’’
Duterte also said the United States ‘‘forced’’ the Philippines to contribute soldiers in its wars in Vietnam and Iraq.
When Manila pulled out non-combat troops that were part of the US-led coalition against Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2004 following threats to behead a kidnapped Filipino worker there, Washington ‘‘made it hard for us,’’ Duterte told Putin in a video shot by the Philippine presidential palace broadcast team. ‘‘These are the things I see which is not a good idea,’’ Duterte said in English.
He also said the Philippines longed to be part of Europe.
‘‘We’ve been longing to be part also of – despite the distance – we have been longing to be part of Europe, especially in commerce and trade around the world.’’
He said it’s still possible to save the 12-nation TPP negotiated by the Obama administration by introducing
cosmetic changes making it acceptable to Trump or carving out a less ambitious pact among TPP signatories that leaves out the US.
“I personally think that President Trump will be very much like chairman of the corporation Trump is,” he said. “He’s a flexible business guy. He’s going to realize he has a role to play.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered
perhaps the most-forceful defense of free trade, given the size of his economy. In his kickoff speech from Peru, he said the best response to rising protectionism would be for APEC’s 21 members to negotiate a free trade area encompassing the entire Pacific Rim.
“Closed and inclusive arrangements are not the right choice,” Xi said, taking a veiled stab at the TPP, which excludes China and is widely seen as an attempt to reassert US dominance in Asia. “Building a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific is a strategic initiative critical for long-term prosperity.”
Xi’s remarks came as Chinese state media blasted Trump for “trade-bashing” rhetoric that threatens global economic stability.
“The billionaire-turned-politician needs to prove that derailing the global economy has not been one of the reasons why he ran for US president,” official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary piece published Saturday. (AP)