BEIJING/MANILA (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group next week, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday, amid tensions between China and the Philippines over the disputed South China Sea.
The APEC meeting will take place in Manila from Nov. 17 to 19. APEC’s members include the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Canada, and together account for 57 percent of global production and 46.5 percent of world trade.
China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.
A summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations last week, attended by both the United States and China, failed to produce a final statement because the delegations could not agree on whether to mention the South China Sea dispute.
China has been particularly angered by a case lodged by the Philippines with an arbitration court in the Netherlands over the South China Sea. China says it will neither recognize nor participate in the case.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit the Philippines on Tuesday to discuss preparations for Xi’s visit and ways to improve Beijing’s relations with Manila, China’s Foreign Ministry said.
“At present, because of reasons everyone knows about, Sino-Philippine relations are facing difficulties. This is something China does not wish to see,” ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
“China pays great attention to relations with the Philippines and is willing to appropriately resolve relevant issues on the basis of dialogue and negotiation.”
Prior to going to Manila, Xi will attend the G20 summit in Turkey, the foreign ministry added.
A demolition crew on Monday dismantled one of Manila’s largest makeshift markets and rounded up homeless families to clean up roads ahead of the summit.
Workers painted sidewalks while dozens of police began patrols around the convention center where the meets will be held.
“We were told to take a vacation for two weeks,” Rosa Diaz, a 65-year-old cigarette vendor, said as the wrecking crew dismantled hundreds of stalls selling used clothes, slippers and toys outside a church. “They said we could return after APEC.”
A bishop and leftist labor group criticized government’s clean-up campaign.
“Their solution is temporary,” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said on radio. “They want to show the visitors that there are no poor people, but why can’t we find a permanent solution for our poor people?”
Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan and Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Manuel Mogato in Manila; Editing by Nick Macfie