PH-China rift won't spill over to APEC - Palace

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 14 2014 04:47 PM | Updated as of May 15 2014 12:47 AM

MANILA – Malacanang believes there won’t be a spillover of the rift between China and the Philippines during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meeting later this year.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda believes China won't risk being isolated amid the disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The APEC meet will be held in China. There, the hosting chores will also be turned over to the Philippines, which will host the APEC meet next year.

Last year, China uninvited President Aquino to the annual China-ASEAN Expo due to the rift over the West Philippine Sea.

Lacierda said the government is counting on international help to keep China at bay.

"I would like to believe that China would like to be a member of the international community in good standing. However, it appears that they are doing things which we find objectionable. We do believe that international support and international persuasion can be a big voice with respect to China [in conducting itself],” he said.

Lacierda took note of the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration signed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Myanmar early this week.

“I think the member-states of the ASEAN have agreed on a number of things. They have agreed, for instance, to urge China to expedite the Declaration on the Conduct (of Parties) in the South China Sea. And that's what we are looking also insofar as ASEAN as a body dealing with China. And hopefully that China would - as a member of the international community - also find reason to sit down with the member-states and discuss the declaration.”

He said the government wants to avoid a confrontation with China.

In the latest development, the Philippines is accusing China of permanently building permanent structures on Johnson Reef.

"The President, in fact, mentioned this Mabini Reef already. Our position is: We do not want to escalate any tension between China and the Philippines. We would rather have our Department of Foreign Affairs comment on those matters,” he said.

In a short statement issued Wednesday, the DFA said: “On 04 April 2014, the Philippines protested Chinese reclamation on Mabini (Johnson) Reef. The Chinese side rejected the protest. The President raised the Mabini Reef issue in Nay Pyi Taw. The Philippines already included Mabini Reef in the Memorial to clarify Mabini Reef's physical character."