Ellen Tordesillas

DFA skips issue on cancellation of China visit

User Rating:  / 3
PoorBest 

The Department of Foreign Affairs issued Monday a media briefer on the China-Asean Expo (CAEXPO) but skipped the issue that President Aquino was not informed that China had canceled as early as Aug. 23 his planned attendance at the event on Sept. 3.

 

DFA’s failure to relay China’s message to Malacañang that Aquino visit “at a more conducive time” and send instead Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo had put the President in an embarrassing situation as he announced on Aug. 28 his trip to Nanning, Guangxi, site of this year’s Expo.

In a media briefing, Foreign Affairs Spokesman Raul Hernandez read a five-point Question and Answer and did not entertain questions.

The Q &A insisted that Aquino was invited by China, belying a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry that “China never extended an invitation to the Philippine president.”

Hernandez referred reporters to China’s note verbale to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations sent through this year’s coordinator, Thailand, saying “it is our sincere hope that the leaders of the 10 ASEAN member states would make their presence at the 10th CAEXPO.”

Earlier, Hernandez said, “The invitation was to the country, to the Philippines, requesting that we send a high-level delegation to the CAEXPO in Nanning.”

The Q & A also said, “There were subsequent concerns and conditions to the President’s attendance and such conditions were absolutely inimical to our national interest.”

“The President stood firm in the defense of the country’s national interest,” the DFA said. What it did not explain was why Aquino initially accepted and announced his visit if he had found the conditions against the national interest.

The DFA would not reveal the conditions “to avoid embarrassment on the Chinese side.”

 Hernandez said the conditions were relayed by “at least three Chinese Foreign Ministry sources” who said the conditions should not be made public and should not be discussed at ministerial level.

“Given the unusual request and the importance of the issue involving our President, it was necessary for the conditions to be confirmed by the two Foreign Ministers at their meeting in Beijing last Wednesday, 28 August 2013,” the Q and A said.

VERA Files reported Monday that on July 24, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia informed Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing that Aquino wants to visit China.

Garcia and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin met in Hong Kong to discuss Aquino’s possible China visit including attendance at the Nanning CAEXPO on Sept. 3. The agreement was for Garcia to give “feedback” on their initial talks. Garcia never communicated to Liu nor to the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

On Aug. 23, with only a little over a week before the event, the Chinese Foreign Ministry informed the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, through Deputy Chief of Mission Antonio Morales,  that since there were no preliminary meetings on the President’s proposed trip to Nanning, China “can’t guarantee that it would be fruitful.” It advised that Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo head the Philippine delegation.

On Aug. 28, the President announced that he was going on a one-day trip to Nanning. The next day, DFA released a text message to media that “The President has decided not to proceed to CAExpo taking into consideration China’s request for the President to visit China at a more conducive time. “

The DFA Q&A said, “In all matters of foreign policy importance, the President is regularly advised in a timely and confidential manner.”

Relations between the Philippines and China have been strained since the April 2013 standoff in Scarborough shoal, which is being claimed by both countries. The shoal, which is 124 nautical miles off Zambales, is now under the control of China and inaccessible to Philippine vessels.

The Philippines has filed a suit before the United Nations Arbitral Court questioning China’s 9-dash line map which covers almost the whole of South China Sea including territories of other countries including the Philippines.

 

Following is the DFA’s full Q & A on the CAEXPO

Was the President invited?

The annual China-ASEAN Exposition (CAEXPO) is an ASEAN-China cooperative event and the usual practice is for the leader of the country of honor to be present. ASEAN countries had strongly urged the Philippines to send the country’s highest official to highlight the 10th anniversary of the ASEAN-China strategic partnership this year. Although the President does not need to be specifically invited, the documents we have on the DFA website will show that he was, in fact, invited.

Were there any concerns and conditions from China for the President’s attendance?

There were subsequent concerns and conditions to the President’s attendance and such conditions were absolutely inimical to our national interest. To avoid embarrassment on the Chinese side, we will not state these conditions but you may wish to address this specific question to H.E. Ambassador Ma Keqing.

Under what circumstances were these conditions conveyed?

These concerns and conditions were delivered by at least three Chinese Foreign Ministry sources. We were advised that these conditions (1) should not be made public and (2) should not be discussed at Ministerial level. Given the unusual request and the importance of the issue involving our President, it was necessary for the conditions to be confirmed by the two Foreign Ministers at their meeting in Beijing last Wednesday, 28 August 2013.

Did the President accept these conditions?

The President stood firm in the defense of the country’s national interest. Was the President given appropriate and timely advice on the issue? As in all matters of foreign policy importance, the President is regularly advised in a timely and confidential manner.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”) 

The Filipino Express

2711 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ 07306 USA.

Phone: 201 434-1114
Fax: 201 434-0880

www.filipinoexpress.com
E-mail: Filexpress@aol.com

Who's Online

We have 500 guests and no members online