PHL official claims China dangled funds for Cambodia to block joint ASEAN statement
China used the power of money in order for Cambodia to block the drafting of a joint communiqué that was the traditional manner of concluding the Association of Southeast Nations’ (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio, who was part of the Philippine delegation to the 45th ASEAN meeting last week in Phnom Penh, said China was behind Cambodia’s decision not to issue the joint communiqué.
The communiqué was supposed to mention the dispute between China and the Philippines over Panatag Shoal in West Philippine Sea.
“Maraming ibinuhos o iprinomisang pera. Mayroon silang maritime cooperation fund, construction fund, may connectivity fund at iba-iba pang mga bagay na inaalok nila,” she said in an interview over GMA News TV’s “News To Go” on Monday.
GMA News Online is still trying to get statements from the Cambodian and Chinese embassies in the Philippines as of this posting.
In a statement over the weekend, the DFA said it “deplores” ASEAN’s non-issuance of a joint communiqué – the first time in the 10-member bloc’s history – due to Cambodia’s resistance.
Cambodia – an ally of China and chairing this year’s meeting – supposedly did not want the joint communiqué to mention anything about the territorial dispute between China and other ASEAN member-states.
The Philippines has been locking horns with China over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) since last April.
Not about to back down
China was clearly “testing the resolve” of the bloc when it got one of its key allies to defend its stand in this year’s meeting, Basilio said.
The Foreign Affairs official, however, maintained the Philippines is not about to back down in the dispute with the world’s second largest economy after the United States.
“Talagang ipinaglalaban namin an gating kasarinlan. Hindi kami nangingimi. Talagang matatag ang aming paniniwala na dapat ang buong sambayanang Pilipino ay dapat ipaglaban ito, kasi atin ito,” she said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is optimistic other ASEAN member-states, such as Indonesia and Vietnam, will also assert their respective rights to parts of the West Philippine Sea, Basilio added.
The department told Philippine ambassadors to hold dialogues with other states and explain Manila’s stand on the territorial dispute with Beijing, according to the undersecretary.
“Pinalakad lahat ng mga ambassador natin para i-eksplika sa mga gobyerno na kung saan sila naroroon para maintindihan ang sitwasyon natin na ang China ay hindi rumerespeto sa ating sovereignty,” she added. — Andreo Calonzo/VS, GMA News
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