THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Thursday China’s commerce minister merely postponed his trip to the Philippines, denying a wire dispatch that the visit and the signing of 40 projects worth billions of dollars had been cancelled.
“Of course not. Dates moved only due to their internal meetings in China. Maybe first week of March,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez told The Manila Times.
The wire report quoted two Philippine officials, who asked not to be identified, as saying Beijing could have been irked by comments on Tuesday by Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. about China’s activities in disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The report said Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng was supposed to arrive in Manila on Thursday with a large delegation, but Beijing informed Manila on Wednesday afternoon that the trip won’t push through.
On Tuesday, Yasay said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was unsettled and had “grave concern” over China’s reclamation activities and installation of weapons systems at the South China Sea.