Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (2-L) and US President Donald Trump (L) hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila on November 13, 2017. 
World leaders are in the Philippines' capital for two days of summits.  / AFP PHOTO / AFP PHOTO AND POOL / Rolex DELA PENA        (Photo credit should read ROLEX DELA PENA/AFP/Getty Images)
Trump touts 'great relationship' with Duterte
04:09 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

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.

GENERAL SANTOS, PHILIPPINES - DECEMBER 17:  President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaks at the 39th birthday party of Boxer Manny Pacquiao at KCC convention center on December 17, 2017 in General Santos, Philippines.  (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)
Duterte leads wrecking of smuggled luxury cars
01:06 - Source: CNN

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.

It isn’t the first time Duterte has spoken passionately about shifting closer to Beijing politically. In October 2016, he unexpectedly announced a military and economic “separation” from the United States during a Beijing trip.

While the Philippines leader quickly backed down on his bold declaration, China’s Xi nonetheless signed 13 bilateral deals with him on their first meeting, including on trade and investment.

Duterte close to Trump

The Philippines has been a close ally and partner of the United States for decades, while its relationship with China soured early in 2016 amid the ongoing dispute over territory in the South China Sea.

But under Duterte, who took power in June 2016, the country’s foreign policy has been turned on its head.

Duterte had a fractious relationship with former US President Barack Obama, whose administration pressed the Philippines leader on his bloody war on drugs, which left thousands dead.

In September 2016, Duterte called Obama a “son of a bitch,” leading to the US administration canceling a planned bilateral meeting.

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Trump, Duterte meet during ASEAN summit
02:34 - Source: CNN

The US relationship has improved significantly under President Donald Trump, who the White House said has a “warm rapport” with the Philippines leader.

During his first meeting with Duterte in Nov