Hu meets with other isle claimants, except PNoy

Posted at 09/09/12 6:56 PM

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia -- The Philippine President failed to meet with China's head of state at a regional summit Sunday, Manila's foreign secretary said, amid deep tensions over a maritime row.

The two sides tried to arrange talks between the Philippines' Benigno Aquino and China's Hu Jintao at a two-day Asia-Pacific leaders' meeting in the Russian Far East port of Vladivostok, but ran out of time, Albert del Rosario said.

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.

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea (West Philippine 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.

"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.

Aquino's aides had said beforehand that a meeting with Hu was his top priority for the summit.