ASEAN countries endeared with China's generosity -- Duterte


By Genalyn Kabiling

Southeast Asian countries are all "pro-China" due to the Asian giant's generosity to them, President Duterte revealed last Tuesday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

The President bared the sentiment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) about its preference for China over western nations during an entrepreneurship forum attended by diplomats, businessman and government officials in Malacañang.

"I’ll tell you straight, the ASEAN countries, you try to befriend them and give aid and everything," Duterte said.

"In the ASEAN countries, I’ll tell you all of them except a — nothing… You want to read their sentiments? You want to know? Oh I will do it for you. They are all pro-China because China does not really…They give," he said.

ASEAN is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

China is one of the major dialogue partners of the regional bloc on trade, defense, and other areas of cooperation. Four members, including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, however, have overlapping claims with China in the South China Sea.

Last June, the President said not all ASEAN members were supportive of the United States despite receiving aid from America. “Akala mo 'yang ASEAN countries? Akala ng Amerikano, may impluwensya sila? Aid dito, aid doon? Well, I'll be frank with you now, all of them are not for you. They do not bleed their hearts for you,” he said.

The President has forged closer economic and defense ties with China, opting to set aside their territorial conflict. Duterte has refused to wage war with China over the South China Sea dispute and instead decided to pursue bilateral dialogue to manage the conflict.

In his speech last Tuesday, Duterte called on China to "temper" its behavior in South China amid reports it threatened a Philippine military aircraft flying over the strategic waterway.