A day after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced in China that he is moving away from the US to align with China, officials in the country are trying to walk back the controversial statements.
On Thursday, Rodrigo gave a speech in front of a group of business leaders in Beijing, and declared the country’s new alliance with China.
"America has lost now. I've realigned myself in your ideological flow," Duterte said in China. "And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way."
Duterte also said this “separation” from the US applies to both economic and military ties.
But as news of the meeting spread, government officials from the Philippines have come out to stem the political damage.
"The president did not talk about separation,” Philippine Trade Minister Ramon Lopez told CNN in Beijing today.
"In terms of economic (ties), we are not stopping trade, investment with America. The president specifically mentioned his desire to strengthen further the ties with China and the ASEAN region which we have been trading with for centuries," he said, referring to the Association of South East Asian Nations.
How realistic are Duterte’s claims? What would closer ties between China and the Philippines mean for the US?
Vicente L Rafael, a professor in history and an expert on the Philippines in the University of Washington