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New war-game pals

Games, by their very nature, are supposed to be friendly encounters or engagements.

Their exercise is their own rewards—all players stand to gain from their mere participation as they gain experience, skills, and ideas about waging a competitive battle.

The same is true with war games—there are no winners or losers, just mutual gainers.

And this kind of game, we should not discriminate against new players or unfamiliar teams because their entry into the game could provide an entirely new perspective for the home team.

These thoughts come to mind as President Duterte expressed willingness to hold military exercises with China but not longtime ally the United States, Chinese media quoted him Monday as saying on the eve of a state visit.

Duterte headed to Beijing on Tuesday for a four-day trip that appears set to cement his dramatic foreign policy tilt away from United States, which he has railed against for criticizing his deadly war on crime.
   
“It’s only China (that) can help us,” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Duterte as saying in an interview ahead of his visit.
   
Duterte also told Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television he was willing to hold joint military exercises with China and Russia.
   
“Yes, I will. I have given enough time for the Americans to play with the Filipino soldiers,” Duterte said when asked if he was open to war games with those two nations, as he reiterated he would no longer hold any more with the United States.
   
“This will be the last. It has been programmed. I do not want my soldiers to be humiliated,” Duterte said, in reference to one set of war games in the Philippines that ended last week.
   
Duterte has sought to reshape his nation’s foreign relations since taking office on June 30 by pivoting towards China and Russia while moving away from the United States, the Philippines’ former colonial ruler and mutual defense ally.
   
Duterte has repeatedly expressed anger over American criticism of his war on crime, which has claimed more than 3,700 lives and raised fears of mass extrajudicial killings.
   
He has branded US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” and told him to “go to hell”.
   
But, signalling his shift to China is also for pragmatic reasons, Duterte has repeatedly ridiculed the United States for what he sees as its weakening economic and military influence around the world.
   
In the Xinhua interview Duterte again thanked China for not criticizing the crime crackdown as he held out the Philippines’ hand for soft loans and other forms of financial help.
   
“China never criticizes. They help us quietly,” Duterte said, according to Xinhua.
   
Duterte is bringing an entourage of hundreds of businessmen with him to Beijing, and Philippine media have said deals worth billions of dollars are expected to be announced during the trip.
   
Asked if he would seek to buy military equipment from China during his visit, Duterte told Phoenix Television: “Yes, but not really in (large) numbers.”
   
Duterte said he would also need small, fast attack boats from China to fight “terrorism”.
   
“If China does not help us in this endeavour, we will have a hard time fighting terrorism,” he said without elaborating, according to Phoenix Television.
   
China claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea, even waters approaching the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations, and has in recent years built artificial islands in the disputed areas that are capable of hosting military bases.