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Top Chinese diplomat to arrive in Philippines for consultations

Publication Date : 18-10-2012

 

Amid relative calm in the still unresolved dispute over territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a top Chinese diplomat is to visit Manila tomorrow for regular consultations with Philippine officials, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday night.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying, China’s former ambassador to Manila, will arrive in the country on October 19 for the 18th Foreign Ministry Consultations, a regular discussion on advancing ties between the two nations.

Fu will visit Manila amid rumours placing her in backchannel talks with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who recently disclosed that President Aquino had tapped him to pursue backdoor negotiations with China to simmer down tensions over the Scarbourough Shoal issue.

The Chinese embassy in Manila has not issued a comment on the reports. Trillanes earlier claimed he brokered the pullout of Chinese vessels from waters around the Scarbourough Shoal, a rock formation off Zambales, during a tense standoff with Philippine vessels earlier this year.

The DFA said Fu will meet with senior Philippine diplomats “to review existing cooperation and chart future direction of Philippines-China diplomatic relations.” Fu is also expected to meet with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Fu was among Chinese officials who met with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on the sidelines of a trade expo in Nanning, China, last month, along with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. China declared that “tensions have eased” between Manila and Beijing following the Nanning meetings.

During Friday’s consultations, the Philippine panel will be headed by Foreign Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio.

The DFA described the consultations as “a regular bilateral mechanism” where senior officials discuss issues of mutual concern and talk about furthering cooperation in different areas, including economic ties, tourism, culture and education exchange, defence and security relations, agriculture and fisheries programmes, cooperation on transportation and communication and consular matters.

Fu is among high-ranking Chinese diplomatic officials handling Asia, boundary and ocean affairs and translation and interpretation, according to her profile on the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ official website.

A diplomatic official since 1978, Fu served as ambassador to the Philippines from 1998 to 2000 and later headed Chinese posts in Australia and the United Kingdom.

 

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