Duterte: If China gives us loans, no more ‘American exercises’

Pia Ranada
The Philippine President says if China offers soft loans for infrastructure projects, he will end 'American interference' in the Philippines

DUTERTE IN CHINA. President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a press briefing with the Filipino community on October 19, 2016. File photo by Toto Lozano/Presidential Photo

BEIJING, China – If China agrees to give the Philippines loans for key projects, President Rodrigo Duterte will stop “American exercises” and “interference.”

“China said, ‘Okay, I will do it for you.’ If they are going to give it to us or help us, lend us the money, and we can do it in our country…No more American interference. No more American exercises,” said Duterte on Wednesday, October 19, during a gathering of China-based Filipinos in Beijing.

It is not clear if Duterte meant military exercises. But in the weeks leading to his state visit to China, he had expressed his desire to change aspects of the Philippine-US military alliance, proposing to end war games and review a military agreement, for example.

In comparison, he has mentioned projects China or Chinese nationals have offered to fund, including a mega drug rehabilitation center and railway.

He said the Philippines’ foreign policy now “gears” toward assistance from China for key projects such as in infrastructure.

“I will not ask but if they offer and they would ask me, ‘You need this aid?’ Of course, we are, we are very poor. You need this railway? Yes, sir. And if you can give us a soft loan, give us something like 20 years to pay, 15 years to pay,” said the Philippine President.

He prefers assistance from China to assistance from the US.

“Even with the price, just give us a little bit of an elbow room. I will not go to America anymore. We will just be insulted there,” he said.

Duterte repeated an earlier statement that he is not keen on pursuing military alliances with any country, saying they would be useless in a 3rd world war involving nuclear weapons.

“I will now realign – I will not ask for armies. America did not worry that I will place their missiles sa (in)…Why? Useless. Why? Because if Russia, China, America, British, Pakistan, India, Iran would start a nuclear war and it will be a world war, there is nothing to talk about except to see you in heaven,” he said to applause.

Duterte is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, October 20, where they are expected to discuss trade, economy, and if Xi brings it up, the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.