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The President Of The Philippines Is Thirsty AF For China

"Only China can help us," President Rodrigo Duterte said ahead of a state visit on Tuesday, highlighting the shift away from the US the Philippines has begun.

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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."

Interview: #Philippines President #Duterte says "only China can help us" before visit, vows peace on #SouthChinaSea… https://t.co/1HpG8Q1noE

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."

Bullit Marquez / AP

The trip is intended to boost trade ties and attract more investment from China.

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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.

Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

Since Duterte took office in the end of June, ties between Manila, a long-time ally of the US in the region, and Washington have deteriorated. Among the highlights are when Duterte openly called Obama a "son of a whore," when he compared himself to Hitler, and his ongoing draconic crackdown on drugs that has left more than 3,600 people dead, nearly half of them killed by vigilante groups.

The Philippines is considered key to the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia" strategy, but human rights groups have started calling for an end to the millions of dollars given away in anti-drug aid.

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.

This does beg the question: Does Philippine President Duterte have a well thought out strategy towards China? @WSJ

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.

Erik De Castro / Reuters

An international court ruled in favor of the Philippines in a dispute surrounding several islands in the South China Sea, which left China furious.

In the Xinhua interview, published Monday, Duterte expressed interest in resuming negotiation over the islands, saying "there is no sense fighting over a body of water," reaffirming the importance of ~friendship~, and saying "we are not interested in allowing other countries to talk."

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."

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“This is how you treat your friends," he told the audience. "You do not go about reprimanding.”

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.

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"I’m at loss how this ass-kissing started," Weibo user "C_Young" commented.

“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.

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"It's better for China to be more careful. It's not that we haven't been fooled before."

Beimeng Fu is a BuzzFeed News World Reporter covering China and is based in New York.

Contact Beimeng Fu at beimeng.fu@buzzfeed.com.

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