Palace hopes Chinese president will attend APEC summit in Manila
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang hopes Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in Manila in November despite the strained relations between the Philippines and China as a result of the West Philippine Sea dispute.

This developed as Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said over dzRB that he considered it a welcome development that Filipinos have been found to be the most concerned in the Asia Pacific region about the raging maritime dispute, at least based on a survey. He said this indicates that more Filipinos are aware of the issue.

Coloma said the Philippines would like to see not just Xi but other APEC heads of states attending the summit on Nov. 18 to 19.

“We expect the 21 economic leaders to be in full attendance during APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting...Of course, we are hoping that all of them, without exception, will be present,” Coloma said.

Xi has yet to visit the Philippines since he assumed office but Aquino has attended the APEC summit in Beijing last year and met briefly with the Chinese leader.

The Philippines has been saying that relations with China are  multi-faceted and that other aspects must be nurtured despite the maritime issue.

Based on a 2015 survey by the Pew Research Center,  nine in 10 or 91 percent of Filipinos have expressed the most concern about territorial conflicts in the region, with the Vietnamese and Japanese trailing at 83 percent.

Coloma said the high level of knowledge and awareness with regard to the territorial and maritime dispute with China was a desirable development because a “unified citizenry is needed in terms of asserting our national position on the need to respect our maritime entitlements” in accordance with international laws like the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“That is why for us, this is a positive development,” Coloma said.

Coloma said various departments and agencies have been working to inform the public about the West Philippine Sea dispute and the country’s position on the matter.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs is conducting regional and provincial information forums with the help of Philippine Information Agency office and they are using the three-part documentary that we produced regarding West Philippine Sea,” Coloma said.

While Filipinos are the most troubled by the territorial disputes with China in the Asia-Pacific region, a little more than half of them still express favorable views of China based on the results of the regional poll.

China enjoys a positive opinion from a majority of people in the Asia-Pacific region, with the exception of Vietnam and Japan, which had the most negative views among those surveyed.

Only 19 percent of Vietnamese voiced a favorable opinion of China.

But in the Philippines, a little more than half, or 54 percent, of Filipinos have favorable view of China.

The Pew Research Center also noted that public views of China improved in the past year in the Philippines by 16 points.

The survey likewise showed that younger Filipinos have confidence in Xi and that 59 percent of Filipinos aged 18 to 29 were among the strongest supporters of the Chinese leader in the region.

The Pew Research survey also reflected Filipinos’ favorable opinion toward a former wartime enemy: Japan.

The Philippines is among the top three countries with a favorable view of Japan, which enjoys a positive image in the region except in China and South Korea.

The survey results showed that 81 percent of Filipinos view Japan in a positive light, just behind Vietnam (82 percent) and Malaysia (84 percent).

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also enjoys support from Filipinos, with 68 percent saying they believe Abe will do the right thing regarding world affairs.

But in China and Korea, the anti-Japan sentiment is still high. Only 12 percent of Chinese and 25 percent of South Koreans have favorable views toward Japan, owing to territorial conflicts in the region and years of historical animosity.

A 2013 Pew Research survey showed that the Chinese and South Korean believed that Japan had not apologized enough for its actions during World War II.

Overall, despite historical and territorial frictions, Asia-Pacific people tend to view their regional neighbors in a positive light, with Japan judged most favorably, the Pew Research Center said.

Japan enjoys 71 percent of favorable views, followed by China with 57 percent approval, India (51 percent), and South Korea (47 percent).

But the views on leaders are less positive.

None of the leaders garnered majority confidence in the survey: 47 percent expressed confidence that Xi would do the right thing regarding world affairs; 43 percent said the same of Abe; while 39 percent of the respondents have the same sentiment towards Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.



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