MANILA, Philippines—Filipinos shouldn’t make a big deal over the failure of new Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to visit the country even as he called at four other Southeast Asian nations, Malacañang said on Sunday.
“We have not given a second thought to the visits to four Southeast Asian countries by the new Chinese foreign minister. The visits are his prerogative,” said Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario in a statement released by the Palace.
Undersecretary Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, agreed.
“We recognize perfectly the prerogative of the Chinese foreign minister to set his own agenda for his trips outside his country,” she said in a radio interview.
Wang made his first official visits to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei between April 30 and May 5.
Manila and Beijing are locked in a long-running dispute over islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The Philippines has brought the matter to the United Nations.
Portions of the South China Sea are being claimed in whole or in part by China, and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Still, Del Rosario said, he looked forward to meeting Wang and working closely with him “at the appropriate time.”
“We reiterate our congratulations and wish him great success,” he added.