CHINA has snubbed an invitation from the Philippines to the World Economic Forum that will be hosted by Manila this month.
Sushant Palakurthi Rao, senior director and head of South-East Asia, WEF, said the invitation extended by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang were turned down for unknown reasons.
The 23rd WEF on East Asia will be held from May 21 to 23 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City (Metro Manila).
“The President of the Philippines has extended an invitation to both the President and Premier of China but they have not committed [to]accepting the invitation,” Rao said in a news briefing in Makati City.
Malacañang deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte earlier said Aquino gave the invitation to Zhao Jianhua, China’s new ambassador to the Philippines, when the latter presented his credentials to the President.
Rao said only business leaders from China will be attending the forum.
The forum will be attended by heads of state, chief executive officers and political, academic and business leaders.
The Philippines recently filed a protest against China for building an airstrip on Mabini Reef in the South China Sea.
On Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued photo showing the building of the airstrip in stages. It called China’s actions at the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) “destabilizing” and in violation of international law.
“This series of photographs . . . from Philippine intelligence sources, shows in stages the extensive reclamation by China on Mabini Reef [Johnson South Reef],” the DFA said in a statement.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying on Wednesday would not confirm Manila’s claim, but asserted the outcrop was Chinese territory.
Philippine House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list also decried China’s actions.
“We condemn the continuing incursion of China in the West Philippine sea especially since it has refused the peaceful resolution of the dispute thru the international tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [Unclos]. This is another affront to our sovereignty and should be added to the pieces of evidence we already submitted to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea [Itlos],” Colmenares said.
“We must assert our sovereignty [over]Mabini Reef, and it could not be more timely since we are celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini for whom the reef was named,” he added.
The Philippines in March asked Itlos to declare illegal China’s claim to 70 percent of the South China Sea.