- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 20, 2016

The White House said Thursday that the Philippine president’s announced “separation” from the U.S. in favor of China is actually a good thing for the U.S.

“We believe that it’s in our national security interest when our partners and allies in the region have strong relationships with China,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. “We don’t consider this a zero-sum game.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, criticized the administration’s response.

“Good foreign policy should be grounded in reality but the White House just said that the Philippines aligning with China and dismissing the United States is in our national security interests,” Mr. Sasse said. “If that’s the case, I’d like to know how the White House defines ‘interests’ and ‘allies.’”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his “separation” from the U.S. on Thursday, declaring he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks. He made the announcement in China.

“In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Mr. Duterte said.

The White House said it has not received any official request from Philippine officials.

“I will tell you that we continue to be the Philippines’ strongest economic partner,” Mr. Schultz said. “And we continue to outpace any other country in terms of direct investment into that country.”

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