Aquino brings big group to see how China does Apec
BEIJING, China—Accompanying President Benigno Aquino III’s large Philippine delegation here for the the annual summit of 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders is a team observing and taking notes on how China is hosting the event that the Philippines is set to host, for the second time, next year.
Having skipped the Yolanda commemorative activities in Tacloban City on Saturday, Mr. Aquino is scheduled to arrive here on Sunday, a day ahead of the opening of the 22nd Apec Leaders Summit, to be held on Nov. 10-11, reportedly to talk with the big guns of business in the region.
Mr. Aquino’s delegation of 173 is bigger this year compared to previous years because of the preparations for the Philippines’ hosting of Apec 2015, according to deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte.
She noted that observation teams were also deployed to Indonesia last year to observe Jakarta’s hosting of the Apec summit in Bali. An observation team is now also here to do the same thing, she said.
Beijing has declared a six-day holiday here for the duration of the Apec meetings.
Palace officials are also considering declaring certain days as holidays when the Philippines gets its turn next year to help ease traffic, according to Valte. But she did not think the government would declare a six-day holiday.
“We also have to consider our work force who are being paid daily,” she said.
It will be the second time for the Philippines to host the Apec summit. The first time was in 1996 under the administration of President Fidel Ramos.
Valte said Apec was just one of two big hosting events next year that the government was preparing for. The other is the visit of Pope Francis in early January.
Started last year
Valte said the government was “on track” in its preparations for Apec, having started as early as last year.
Apart from the two-day Apec leaders’ summit, the Philippines will host a total of 24 events related to Apec 2015, she said.
She said it will be a big challenge for the country to host 10,000 delegates from 20 member countries.
That’s why the observation team has been looking into how China will manage everything related to Apec activities—accreditation, transportation, security, hotel accommodations, and time and motion, she said.
Valte would not say where the government plans to hold the Apec summit next year.
She said the Philippines’ Apec 2015 hosting duties begins next month with the first Apec informal senior officials meeting in Legaspi, Albay, from Dec. 8 to 9.
Dr. Alan Bollard, executive director of the Apec Secretariat in Singapore, told Filipino reporters here that Philippine preparations for Apec 2015 “look to be very advanced.”
“I’m hearing about Plan A, Plan B and even Plan C when necessary. So I’d rate it very high,” he said.
Mr. Aquino is to leave Manila at 8.50 a.m. Sunday for the four-and-a-half hour trip to Beijing.
His first event will be the Apec CEO Summit in the afternoon where he will be one of four participating leaders and where he will deliver a statement.
The APEC CEO summit is touted to be the “most influential and high-level business event in the Asia Pacific.” Some 1,500 delegates, mostly businessmen from Chinese enterprises, are expected to attend.
On economic growth
Foreign Undersecretary Laura del Rosario earlier said that Mr. Aquino would give a talk on economic reform for competitive growth.
The President will also hold bilateral talks with the leaders of six nations, but not including host China. Mr. Aquino earlier said he would not have bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the Apec meetings.
According to Del Rosario, there will be no opportunity for Mr. Aquino to raise the South China Sea dispute at the summit as Apec was an economic forum.
Bollard said the discussions here would be purely on economic issues, particularly on “opening up and connecting up the region.”
“That’s because everybody from all the economies over the years have realized how valuable that can be, so people haven’t brought political issues onto that table,” he told the Philippine media delegation.
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