Awkward no more: Aquino chats with China’s Xi before Apec retreat
A day after an awkward red carpet walk before the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders’ meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Benigno Aquino III were seen talking before the Apec retreat during the second day of the heads of state meet-up.
This came after Xi’s awkward walk while he was keeping distance from Aquino and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday as they headed for the Apec leaders’ dialogue with the Apec Business Advisory Council (ABAC) at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
Xi was noticeably keeping distance from Aquino and Bachelet, both of whom were heartily talking, even though the three of them were walking in a row toward the dialogue room.
Aquino and Bachelet shared a history of hardship under a dictatorship. Bachelet and her family were tortured under the Pinochet military dictatorship, while her father was killed under police custody. Aquino’s father, the opposition senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was assassinated during the Marcos dictatorship.
For Thursday’s retreat, Aquino shook hands and talked with Xi upon his arrival at the PICC. Aquino also walked with him for the family photo, where they stood beside each other smiling.
Walking toward the family photo platform, Xi was no longer a loner as he chatted with Malaysian President Najib Razak.
As they settled at the table, Aquino sat between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. Xi sat beside Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
United States President Barack Obama also arrived for the Apec retreat. He was noticeably absent in yesterday’s ABAC dialogue.
The Apec Summit was held in Manila amid the maritime case before the United Nations-backed International Arbitration Tribunal filed by the Philippines against China over the dispute on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
China is claiming almost all the seas even though Philippines claim it is within its exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The UNCLOS is the primary international agreement which governs maritime disputes on overlapping maritime zones.
China has refused to participate in the case even though Philippines scored initial victory when the Tribunal ruled that it has jurisdiction over the maritime dispute.
China had also built artificial islands over the disputed waters large enough to carry ships and planes, compelling the Philippines and ally US to station patrol ships near the land reclamation works. CDG