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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s US Rehetoric Raises Concern

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Rodrigo Duterte
  • Duterte’s US Rehetoric Raises Concern

There is no doubt that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is not a fan of the US and that his harsh rhetoric against the country’s closest and oldest foreign ally is genuine.

Insisting that the Philippines will survive without US assistance and support, Duterte has refused to stop his foul-mouthed tirades against the US after declaring a “separation” from the country’s former colonizer during a visit to China last week.

“Even if we are just poor, do not fuck with our dignity,” he told a cheering crowd of Filipinos in Tokyo on Tuesday on the first day of his three-day visit to Japan.

Before leaving Manila, the 71-year-old president even threatened to revoke a defence pact which allowed US troops more access to the Philippines.

“Forget it,” he said, referring to the enhanced defence cooperation agreement signed in 2014.

“I do not want to see any military man of any other nation except the Filipino soldiers.”

While analysts agree that the Philippines needs to chart its own foreign policy, free from any outside interference, they warned that Duterte’s anti-Americanism could eventually hurt the country.

“The US is giving us some slack now,” professor of political science Aries Arugay from the University of the Philippines, told dpa.

“However, it doesn’t mean they will not punish us. The US as a superpower has always used the discipline and punish approach.”

“It will let you be, but there will be repercussions,” he added.

The US is one of the largest foreign investors in the Philippines, with investments totalling more than 730 million dollars in 2015.

It is also the country’s third-largest trading partner and home to over 3.4 million Filipinos, making them the second largest group of Asian immigrants in the US after those from China.

In 2015, the Philippines received some 175 million dollars in US development assistance, and a total of 50 million dollars in military financing.

Before Duterte became president in June, the US pledged more than 120 million dollars in military aid, double the amount Washington normally gives each year.

Arugay noted it was not the first time the Philippines had distanced itself from the US, citing a 1992 Senate vote against extending the lease of American military bases in the country.

In 2004, the Philippines also withdrew its peacekeeping forces from Iraq, contrary to the US’ will, after a Filipino was abducted by rebels who threatened to execute him if Filipino soldiers were not pulled out.

“We were punished for that,” Arugay said. The US was not supporting us [for some time], forcing [then president] Gloria Arroyo to tilt towards China.”

Duterte said he was not worried about losing US aid and investment, noting that he would instead work to boost economic ties with China and Japan.

“We will survive,” he said. “Maybe at this time, not all Filipinos would look too kindly about my stand.

But in the years to come, the next generation, they would know that there is such a thing in this world as the dignity of the Filipino people.”

Businessmen and politicians have urged Duterte to be circumspect in his foreign policy pronouncements, with one lawmaker noting that the Philippines would be at the losing end if it completely broke from the US and cozied up to China.

Congressman Gary Alejano reminded Duterte of the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea, where Chinese encroachment has prevented Filipinos from fishing in the area.

“The more the Philippine economy is exposed to China, the more our economy becomes dependent on them, the less our power to assert will be, pertaining to our territorial conflict in the West Philippine Sea,” Alejano said.

Arugay noted that while the majority of Filipinos love America, many also shared Duterte’s resentment over perceived unfair treatment which the country had received from the US.

“Even the most pro-American Filipino will admit that the Americans have not really given what is due to us,” he said.

“But our anti-Americanism is fleeting. Whether we like it or not, we like the US.”

Arugay said Duterte may only be hedging in his diplomatic play with the US, but warned he was playing a risky game if he continued to unleash anti-American attacks and later backtracks.

“What is being jeopardized is our ability to make credible commitments,” he said.

“Who will believe us if we keep on changing our stand. If this continues, our ability to credibly commit to anything in the international arena will be questioned and we will not be taken seriously.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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