Ahead of a four-day state visit to Beijing, President Rodrigo Duterte declared that China is the new best friend for the Philippines, telling Chinese state agency Xinhua, "It's only China [that] can help us."
Duterte, whose grandfather is Chinese, told Xinhua on behalf of the 2 million Chinese Filipinos that "we might be asking for your help, asking the Chinese people to help Chinese people here."
In courting China, the outspoken new president of the Philippines also decided that no third wheel should get in the way of the new relationship.
The shift Duterte is launching has the potential to be economically damaging for the Philippines, given the amount of trade between it and the US, but he seems to be sure of himself.
It's a huge about-face for the China and the Philippines: Just three months ago the two countries were at a low point in their relationship.
And at a celebration of the Filipino Coast Guard last week, where officials of the US Coast Guard were guests, Duterte rolled out a newspaper during his speech and thanked China for funding a "mega rehab center."
However, people in China — where many have a racist view of the Philippines as being a country of banana sellers and maids — weren't quite ready for the new friendship to take hold.
"Even if you said so, I still won't buy your dried mango."
“But the US–Philippine alliance won't substantially break up, it's stupid to simply regard them as correcting a skewed foreign policy as favoring China. That's just a bargaining chip,” another said.
Beimeng Fu is a BuzzFeed News World Reporter covering China and is based in New York.
Contact Beimeng Fu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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