Chinese snub? DFA says China sent invitation to PH
MANILA - China did send an invitation to the Philippines to send a "high-level delegation" to the China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, according to Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez.
President Aquino was planning to head that delegation but China later asked him to do the visit at another time.
Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo will instead represent the President in the Expo.
“The invitation was to the country to the Philippines requesting that we send a high-level delegation to the CA-Expo in Nanning and since we are the country of honor at this time, it’s the practice that the head of the government or the head of state go to the CA-Expo in Nanning when they are the country of honor,” Hernandez told reporters.
Hernandez issued the clarification amid statements from China that its government did not send an invitation to the President to visit China.
“The request of China for the President to visit China at a conducive time was relayed to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs last Wednesday night in Beijing.”
Hernandez said no specific reason was given by China but acknowledged the “differences” that both countries have on territorial and maritime issues.
“I don’t have the specific reason but we continue to have differences with China on the West Philippine Sea issue and we have urged China to consider the rules-based approach to the West Philippine Sea issue and this rules-based approach is a combination of two-pronged approach which is advocating the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea and pursuing the arbitral case with UNCLOS in order to resolve the maritime indication. And according to the Chinese [Foreign] Ministry, this will be a hard sell for the constituents of China at this time,” Hernandez said.
Asked if this could be considered a snub by China, Hernandez said, “What is important for us is we continue to espouse the bilateral relations and the advancement of that is very important for both the Philippines and China. As far as the West Philippine Sea issue is concerned, we would like to treat that in a separate way.”
Despite this, the Philippines sees the advancement of its relations with China in other aspects.
“On the part of the Philippines, we will continue to abide by our principled position that bilateral relations can advance despite differences,” Hernandez said.