Duterte: I want to be friends with China and I want U.S. troops out of my country

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte says he is ready to turn his back on America and insists he wants his country to be free of foreign troops. The outspoken leader, who has cosied up to China while aiming vitriolic abuse at the U.S., said that he wanted his nation to be free to pursue an independent foreign policy. “I want to be friends to China,” he said during a visit to staunchly pro-U.S. Japan. “I do not need the arms. I do not want missiles established in my country. I do not need to have the airports to host the bombers.”

We will survive, without the assistance of America, maybe a lesser quality of life, but as I said, we will survive

President Rodrigo Duterte

The volatile leader has kept up his anti-US rhetoric for months, even calling Barack Obama a “son of a whore”. His latest remarks refer to visiting U.S. troops, whose presence in five Philippine military camps was established as a counterbalance to China’s growing military assertiveness in the region. He told an audience of businesspeople in Tokyo: “I want, maybe in the next two years, my country free of the presence of foreign military troops. I want them out and if I have to revise or abrogate agreements, executive agreements, I will.”

We’re going to take the long view. We’re not going to react and respond to every bit of rhetoric.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby