The possibility of China snubbing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila was raised yesterday since President Xi Jinping has yet to accept the Philippines’ invitation to the event.
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and other heads of states have already sent their official confirmation for the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting on November 18 and 19 but China has yet to respond.
APEC has 21 members that include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States.
“We’re still waiting for a confirmation from China. Everyone else is more or less confirmed already,” Almendras said in a television interview.
Xi has not been to the Philippines since he assumed office but President Benigno Aquino 3rd attended the APEC summit in Beijing last year and met briefly with the Chinese leader.
Speculations that Xi may not attend this year’s APEC summit were rooted on the recent ruling of the international Arbitral Tribunal that it has immediate jurisdiction over seven out of 15 issues raised by the Philippines against China over the contested West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Philippine government welcomed the positive development, but China called the decision “null, void and nonbinding.”
But Almendras said the territorial dispute between Manila and Beijing would not be discussed during the summit.
“The meeting is about economies. The West Philippine Sea issue will not be discussed,” he said.
Almendras noted that the country’s agenda in the upcoming summit will focus on how to boost small and medium local enterprises.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE