BEIJING, China – President Rodrigo Duterte took a jab, not only at the United States or President Barack Obama, but at the American people themselves, in a speech in front of Chinese businessmen and government officials.
“Americans are loud, sometimes rowdy. Their larynx is not adjusted to civility,” said Duterte on Thursday, October 20, before mimicking an American accent.
WATCH: Duterte describes Americans, impersonates them accdg to his perception. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/6awpfjhjbg — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) October 20, 2016
“They are a very discourteous people,” he said. Duterte was speaking at a business forum attended by Chinese businessmen and Chinese government officials at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.
Among the audience was Zhang Gaoli, Vice Premier of China State Council. The forum took place on the third day of his state visit to China.
In one part of his speech, Duterte jokingly warned the Chinese not to do business with Americans saying, “That is the surest way of losing your money.”
Most of his speech contained such anti-American statements, interwoven with jokes about Philippines-China relations, and stretches of him speaking in Filipino. Chinese translators, who could be heard through headsets provided by the Chinese government, stayed silent as Duterte spoke in a language they could not understand.
The audience, for the most part, laughed at Duterte’s anti-American jokes and clapped loudly when he praised China. Most gave him a standing ovation at the end of his speech.
'America has lost'
The Philippine President explained that he felt offended by US officials, including Obama, “lecturing” him on possible human rights violations linked to his deadly war on drugs, a campaign that China says it supports.
“I tried to explain that I have 4 million addicts to take care of and that I need help but nobody was listening. I was talking in a very decent language but they just went ahead to pound so I was forced to express my anger with curses and epithets and all,” said Duterte.
In his Thursday speech, he said “America has lost” in the areas of politics and culture, and that he is ready to “shift gears.”
“I realign myself in your ideological flow and maybe I would also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are 3 of us against the world – China, Philippines, Russia,” he said to loud applause.
He also said that the idea of the US being the "most powerful industrial nation in the world" is "a lot of bullshit."
Asks China for help
Alongside his tirade against Americans, Duterte commended China for its “sincerity” and support.
“China has the character of an Oriental. it does not go around insulting people, insulting on policies to follow them,” he said.
Duterte joked that he prefers Chinese loans to American ones since the Chinese “are not eager to collect [debt] and sometimes they forget because of our friendship.”
At one point, he referred to President Xi Jinping as "Ji Xinping."
But towards the end of his speech, he asked for China’s help in earnest.
“I am not asking [something] for free but if China would find in its heart to help us in our needs then we will remember it for all time,” said Duterte, again to applause.
In the same speech, Duterte announced his separation from the US in military and economic aspects. The US is seen as the sole country who can challenge China’s dominance in Asia and in the West Philippine Sea, a body of water critical to the world economy.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.