The West Philippine Sea issue will not be brought up at the formal meetings of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ summit next week. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the primary reason is the pending case before an arbitral tribunal and the government prefers not to discuss the case publicly.
“Secondly, APEC is not the proper forum to discuss the issue,” DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said.
However, the US government said the issue of West Philippine Sea may come up at the side meetings. US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said “if it’s not on the formal I can imagine it will be a matter of discussion among the various subgroups and discussions that take place.”
“I think understanding that this is primarily an economic based discussion or multilateral discussion or forum. But as we often do when we get together with our allies and partners in the region, this is an issue that does come up,” the American spokesperson said.
In response to the American spokesperson’s remarks, Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said “the long-standing consensus among all [APEC] members is that sensitive issues concerning politics and security shall not be introduced.” He added that “the Philippines, also concurred that the APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting won’t and mustn’t discuss political, security and other sensitive issues.”
“It is hoped that all members will work in concert to preserve the nature of APEC as an economic forum, make more constructive efforts, concentrate on regional economic growth and practical cooperation, create favorable atmosphere to ensure the success of the meeting, and make contributions to prosperity, development and advancement of the region,” Hong Lei said.
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