China’s Xi to attend APEC summit amid sea disputes
Chinese FM Yi will visit the Philippines today
BEIJING/MANILA: Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group next week, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday, amid tensions between China and the Philippines over the disputed South China Sea. The APEC meeting will take place in Manila from Nov. 17 to 19. APEC’s members include the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Canada, and together account for 57 percent of global production and 46.5 percent of world trade.
China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.
A summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations last week, attended by both the United States and China, failed to produce a final statement because the delegations could not agree on whether to mention the South China Sea dispute.
China has been particularly angered by a case lodged by the Philippines with an arbitration court in the Netherlands over the South China Sea. China says it will neither recognize nor participate in the case. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit the Philippines today to discuss preparations for Xi’s visit and ways to improve Beijing’s relations with Manila, China’s Foreign Ministry said.
“At present, because of reasons everyone knows about, Sino-Philippine relations are facing difficulties. This is something China does not wish to see,” ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
“China pays great attention to relations with the Philippines and is willing to appropriately resolve relevant issues on the basis of dialogue and negotiation.”
Prior to going to Manila, Xi will attend the G20 summit in Turkey, the foreign ministry added.
A demolition crew yesterday dismantled one of Manila’s largest makeshift markets and rounded up homeless families to clean up roads ahead of the summit.
Workers painted sidewalks while dozens of police began patrols around the convention centre where the meets will be held. “We were told to take a vacation for two weeks,” Rosa Diaz, a 65-year-old cigarette vendor, said as the wrecking crew dismantled hundreds of stalls selling used clothes, slippers and toys outside a church. “They said we could return after APEC.”
A bishop and leftist labor group criticized government’s clean-up campaign. “Their solution is temporary,” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said on radio. “They want to show the visitors that there are no poor people, but why can’t we find a permanent solution for our poor people?”
The Philippine Supreme Court is expected to decide that a new US-Philippine security agreement is constitutional and will announce its ruling before President Barack Obama visits Manila next week for an Asia-Pacific summit, a source said.
The deal gives US troops wide access to Philippine military bases and approval to build facilities to store fuel and equipment for maritime security, but it was effectively frozen after left-wing politicians and other opponents challenged its constitutionality last year. The expected ruling comes amid growing tension between the United States and China over Beijing’s island-building in the disputed South China Sea.
“I have seen the draft (ruling). The court will uphold its constitutionality, denying the petition to declare it unconstitutional,” said a court source who declined to be identified.
The source said the Supreme Court’s 15member panel still needed to discuss the matter on Tuesday. I f no decision was announced at that session, it would happen on Nov. 16 when the court next convened, the source added. Obama will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila on Nov 18-19. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed just days before Obama last visited Manila in April 2014. — Agencies
MANILA: A Philippine Police chaplain from the Roman Catholic faith sprinkles holy water as he blesses explosive ordnance disposal equipment donated by the US Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, during a turnover ceremony in Manila yesterday. The EOD equipment will be used in preparation for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held in the Philippines later this month. — AFP