Liam Fox praises 'shared values' of UK and Philippines as he meets Rodrigo Duterte
Liam Fox has been criticised for hailing the “shared values” of the UK and Philippines as he met the Asian country’s president, who has boasted about committing extra-judicial executions.
The International Trade Secretary is on a trip to south-east Asia seeking stronger economic links as part of the Government’s “Global Britain” strategy.
Ahead of talks with president Rodrigo Duterte, Dr Fox wrote for the local BusinessWorld paper: “The UK and the Philippines have a well-established and strong relationship built on a foundation of shared values and shared interests and we want this partnership to continue to flourish.”
Some 7,000 people have died since president Duterte, nicknamed 'the Punisher', launched an anti-crime crackdown on taking office last June - prompting outcry from international bodies and human rights organisations.
He has previously claimed to have killed “about three” people when he was mayor of the town of Davao.
Barry Gardiner, the Shadow International Trade Secretary, said it was “shocking” that Dr Fox had compared the UK’s values to those of the Philippines.
“We want to expand trade with countries all around the world and it is right that the Government should be pursuing that vigorously,” he told the Guardian.
“But the thing you have to be very careful about is that we do not sacrifice fundamental principles in the process. It is frankly shocking that Liam Fox in his speech in the Philippines talked about the shared common values that we have.
“I’m sorry, but we do not have these shared common values with President Duterte who wants to bring back the death penalty and lower the age of criminal responsibility to nine.”
The Government suggested to the Guardian that Dr Fox raised concerns about human rights abuses.
“The UK has a well established and strong relationship with the countries of south-east Asia,” a spokesperson for the Department for International Trade said.
“While in the region, the international trade secretary is meeting government representatives and addressing hundreds of businesses and trade associations.
“We do not shy away from confronting barriers to trade and investment – including issues of human rights and corruption. Greater knowledge and understanding of one another will increase our ability to address those issues that concern us.”
Dr Fox will also visit Malaysia and Indonesia on his trip.