Aquino-Hu meeting cancelled
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - A meeting between Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Chinese President Hu Jintao at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vladivostok, Russia, was cancelled due to "scheduling challenge."
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario confirmed Sunday, September 9, that the Aquino-Hu meeting did not push since there were problems matching the two leaders' schedules.
"It just came to a scheduling challenge, but as you can see the scheduling challenge turned out to be a bigger challenge than we anticipated," Del Rosario said i a press briefing.
He said the format has been finalized, but the government waited for the final date and time of the meeting.
Del Rosario said “reasonable time” was allotted for the meeting, but no agenda was agreed upon beforehand. The territorial disputes between the two countries, he noted, is “a subject that's difficult to avoid in a discussion between the Philippines and China.”
But Del Rosario recounted an agreement between Aquino and Hu, during the Philippine leader's state visit to China in 2011, that the South China Sea dispute is “not the sum total” of their relations.
China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, which is believed to hold vast amounts of oil and gas, is a rich fishing ground and is home to shipping lanes vital to global trade.
But the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also make claims on the sea, some of them overlapping, and Manila and Hanoi accuse Beijing of a campaign of intimidation to press its claims.
Tensions between the Philippines and China have been particularly pronounced, escalating dramatically in April when vessels from the two countries became engaged in a stand-off at a remote shoal in the sea.
The failure of the anticipated Aquino-Hu talks contrasted with discussions the Chinese leader had with Vietnamese president Truong Tan Sang, which a Chinese government spokesman described as friendly.
Hu also met with the sultan of Brunei, which is less vocal in asserting its claims, and the representative of Taiwan. - Rappler.com and Agence France Presse