South China Sea off APEC agenda – PHL exec

By Jose Cielito Reganit

MANILA, Nov. 17 (PNA) — Despite the South China Sea dispute reaching new highs, the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday stressed anew that the territorial row is not part of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agenda.

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the economic meet, Secretary Albert Del Rosario said that there were no discussions so far on the matter and that no other discussions have been tabled in agenda.

“The APEC meeting does not include any item on the South China Sea,” he stressed.

His statements were made as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Manila Tuesday to participate in the leaders’ summit.

The Philippine official said they were happy that the Chinese President honored the country’s invitation.

“We are very happy that President Xi is here. We promise that we would be a good host,” Del Rosario said.

The dispute between Manila and Beijing is the subject of an arbitration of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

The international body had earlier ruled that it has jurisdiction on the complaint lodged by the Philippine government and has set a hearing from November 24 to 30.

Besides the Philippines, China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which USD 5 trillion worth of shipping trade passes every year. (PNA)