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Duterte blasts US, says China visit was just economics

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte sought to assure Japan on Wednesday that his high-profile visit to rival China last week was about economics, not security, and vowed to stand on Tokyo’s side over the disputed South China Sea when the time came. Earlier in the day, Duterte reiterated his harsh words for long-time ally Washington, saying he might end defence treaties.

The volatile Philippine leader’s visit to Japan comes amid jitters about his foreign policy goals after weeks of verbal attacks on ally the United States and overtures towards China. 

Duterte had last week announced in China his “separation” from the US, but then insisted ties were not being severed and that he was merely pursuing an independent foreign policy.

His comments pose a headache for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has tightened ties with Washington while building closer security relations with Manila and other Southeast Asian countries as a counter-weight to a rising China. 

“You know I went to China for a visit. And I would like to assure you that all there was, was economics. We did not talk about arms. We avoided talking about alliances,” he said. 
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