“Your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States … both in military, but economics also,” said Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte to a burst of applause from an audience of officials in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, the symbolic seat of China's ruling Communist Party. At the Philippine-Chinese trade forum that same day, October 20, 2016, Duterte opened his speech by asking, “What is really wrong with an American character?” Americans are, he continued, “loud, sometimes rowdy, and they have this volume of their voice … not adjusted to civility…. They are the more forward commanding voice befitting obedience.” Evoking some deep Filipino racialist tropes, Duterte then mocked the flat, nasal American accent and rued the time he was questioned at the Los Angeles airport by a “Black” officer with a “black” uniform, “black shoes,” and a “black” gun. Moving from rhetoric to substance, Duterte quietly capitulated to Beijing's relentless pressure for bilateral talks to settle the dispute over the South China Sea, virtually abrogating Manila's recent slam-dunk win on that issue before an international court (Demick and Wilson 2016; DU30 News 2016).

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