APEC in Manila: Aquino to dodge row with China

Paterno Esmaquel II
APEC in Manila: Aquino to dodge row with China
President Aquino says it 'will be more prudent' to await an arbitral tribunal's ruling on the Philippines' case against China over the West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines –  Even as China’s island-building activities alarm his country, President Benigno Aquino III will not raise the Philippines’ maritime dispute with China when Manila hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November. 

In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Tuesday, September 8, Aquino pointed out that the Philippines already filed a historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) before an arbitral tribunal in The Hague. 

“I think it will be more prudent for us to await the decision of the arbitral tribunal rather than engage them in this dialogue,” Aquino said in the interview, which was also aired on state-run PTV-4.

“I think we have already stated our positions through various fora,” he added.

The Philippines expects the tribunal at The Hague to issue a definitive ruling against China by 2016. (IN PHOTOS: Philippines challenges China in The Hague)

China, on the other hand, refuses to join the arbitration proceedings, and asserts de facto control over the West Philippine Sea. 

The area covered by China’s artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea now add up to around a third of the city of Manila, the Philippines’ capital. 

Planning to downplay these issues during the APEC meeting in November, Aquino said the Philippines, instead, will stress “China’s major role in the world economy.”

“I’m sure all the other member countries, including the observing countries we will be inviting, will be curious to know what the plans of China are with regard to issues like the stock market,” Aquino said. (READ: China sparks fresh global stock market rout

The Philippine president said, “It’s an economic conference, so economic issues will be at the forefront.” – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.