Silk Road

Duterte's deference delights China but is questioned at home

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's effusive message of friendship on his visit to Beijing this week has handed China a public relations bonanza just three months after Beijing suffered a humiliating defeat at an international tribunal.

The state-owned Chinese media that sought to portray Duterte's predecessor and the arbitration panel as American puppets this summer have now rolled out what Chinese media scholars describe as a rare welcome for the Philippine president, who this week downplayed his country's dispute with Beijing over South China Sea territory.

But the overtures have drawn criticism of Duterte at home in the Philippines, where the public is wary of...