New gov’t appointments in China delay commerce minister’s visit to PHL – officials

MANILA -- Philippine officials on Friday clarified that the postponement of Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng's visit to Manila was due to new appointments in the Chinese government.

"They already announced the new Commerce Minister. That's why the visit was postponed," Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez told DTI press corps in a text message.

According to reports, Beijing pulled out Ministry of Commerce's (MOFCOM) visit to Manila this week, following the comments of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay on China's activities in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

At the sidelines of the Philippines-China Investment Forum in Makati City on Friday, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Sta. Romana also said the new appointments made by the Chinese government in MOFCOM was the reason of the cancelled visit of Gao in the country, and not Yasay's statement during the Boracay Meet of ASEAN Summit.

"It's something to do with Chinese politics," Sta. Romana stressed.

During the investment forum, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said the new commerce minister will visit the country to sign guidelines of cooperation between China and the Philippines.

"It is a very important part for the coming visit of the new Minister of Commerce of China. He will sign, together with his counterparts, guidelines which would guarantee that proper and legal procedures to be followed. Cooperation between both sides would be rules-based, transparent, and will stand the test of time, stand the test of laws," Jianhua said.

Meanwhile, taking over the MOFCOM leadership is its current vice commerce minister Zhong Shan, who was previously an international trade representative of China.

Tycoon and former envoy Francis Chua said Zhong would visit the Philippine on March 7. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency