PNoy shortlists ‘young, gifted’ Beijing nominee

President Aquino isn't limiting his choice for the 'very sensitive' China ambassador position to career officials

BEIJING NOMINEE. President Benigno Aquino III is still looking for a Philippine ambassador to China. File photo courtesy of PCOO/Malacañang

MANILA, Philippines – Who is the young, gifted nominee whom President Benigno Aquino III is considering to become the Philippines’ ambassador to China to replace the earlier, much-criticized appointee, Domingo Lee?

Aquino wouldn’t say who, and only described the nominee as one who has “impressed” Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario. “Pero ang impression ko, ang bata eh,” he said in an interview with reporters. (But my impression that the person is too young.)

In any case, the President said he is not limiting his choice to career officials.

He said the criteria for this crucial position are different – “somebody who understands the nuances of Chinese culture (and) how their system works, (and) has developed contacts left and right to be able to reach the opinion-makers and those whose opinions reallymatter.”

Ang daming criteria dahil nga very sensitive post,” Aquino said. (There are a lot of criteria precisely because it is a very sensitive post.)

Lee’s withdrawal

The President is looking for an ambassador to China after Lee, a businessman and friend of the Aquino family, requested him to withdraw his nomination as China ambassador. Lee cited his “protracted nomination process” that the Philippines cannot afford amid the country’s ongoing standoff with China. 

Lee had received criticism for his supposed lack of basic knowledge on China and diplomacy in general.

Meanwhile, the dispute between the Philippines and China has dragged their relationship to its “lowest ebb in years,” according to Chinese state media.

Aquino, in relation to this, has warned the Philippines’ neighbors about China’s growing aggressiveness over its claims in the South China Sea. 

Next week, the Philippines will bring up its dispute with China to the United States, its key military ally.

This move could further anger China, which has insisted the US should have no role in the dispute. – Rappler.com