Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has effusively praised China and its strongman President Xi Jinping on the eve of attending Beijing’s signature Boao Forum.
Speaking in Manila on Monday prior to his trip to China, Duterte said the Philippines needed to deepen ties with Beijing because China is willing to invest in his country.
“I need China. More than anybody else at this point, I need China,” Duterte said. “I simply love Xi Jinping. He understood, he understands my problem and is willing to help, so I would say thank you China.”
Every year, China holds a meeting of regional political and business leaders called the Boao Forum in the southern province of Hainan, similar to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Duterte leads wrecking of smuggled luxury cars 01:06
The controversial Philippines President is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the forum, and said on Monday infrastructure investment would be on top of the agenda.
“Our destiny lies in Asia, not in the Middle East but they’re too busy fighting and they don’t have money. If you don’t have money, you’re not my friend. So I go to China. Plenty of money,” Duterte said.
Duterte close to Trump
But under Duterte, who took power in June 2016, the country’s foreign policy has been turned on its head.
In September 2016, Duterte called Obama a “son of a bitch,” leading to the US administration canceling a planned bilateral meeting.
Trump, Duterte meet during ASEAN summit 02:34
The US relationship has improved significantly under President Donald Trump, who the White House said has a “warm rapport” with the Philippines leader.