MANILA, Philippines – China defended President Rodrigo Duterte from the tirade of the United Nations (UN) human rights chief that the Philippine leader needs to undergo "psychiatric evaluation" after his diatribes against UN rapporteurs.
In a press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on Monday, March 12, that "anyone without bias can see" that Duterte has made "achievements" in matters such as fighting illegal drugs and improving people's jobs.
The UN high commissioner on human rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, is one of the staunchest critics of Duterte's war on drugs and his "authoritarian approach to governance."
China's comment comes as the Duterte administration vows friendlier ties with China. The Philippine government is also "aggressively" pursuing joint sea exploration with China, despite a 2016 Hague ruling that affirmed the Philippines' exclusive rights over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Read an excerpt from Lu's press conference below:
JOURNALIST: According to the Guardian, the Philippine Department of Justice last month listed more than 600 people it wanted to be categorized as rebels for "using acts of terror" to undermine the government. Among them was the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Victoria Tauli Corpuz. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said in response that President Duterte needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination. What is your comment?
LU KANG: Anyone without bias can see that President Duterte has made positive efforts since assuming office to combat drug-related crimes as well as terrorism, develop the national economy, and improve people's livelihood, which have effectively protected and promoted the Philippine people's fundamental rights to security and development. The achievements made by the Philippine government led by President Duterte on these fronts have won great approval and extensive support among the Philippine people.
Relevant sides of the international community, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, shall respect the sovereignty of the Philippines and the will of its people, view the outcomes of the Philippines' fight against drug and terrorism in a comprehensive, unbiased and objective way, and support its efforts to move forward its human rights cause in light of its national conditions. As an agency of the UN, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is expected to fulfill its duties within the framework set out by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.