SCMP’s Raissa Robles reports that veteran diplomat Sonia Brady, familiar with Sino-Philippine relations, has been appointed the new Philippine ambassador to China. The appointment is waiting for parliamentary approval.
It shows the Philippine president’s efforts to ease the tension in the South China Sea.
The report from SCMP
A veteran diplomat has been appointed the new Philippine ambassador to China amid a tense stand-off over disputed territory in the South China Sea, a deputy presidential spokeswoman said yesterday.
President Benigno Aquino chose Sonia Brady, 70, because she was familiar with Sino-Philippine relations after serving as the ambassador to Beijing from April 2006 to January 2010, Abigail Valte said.
Before that, Brady (pictured) was second secretary and consul there from 1976 to 1978 after the Philippines resumed diplomatic relations with China. It was also Brady who briefed Aquino before his visit to Beijing last year, Valte said.
Ateneo de Manila Professor Benito Lim, an expert on Sino-Philippine relations, told the Sunday Morning Post he welcomed Brady’s appointment.
“She has dealt with the Chinese before; she understands how to deal with them and what they want and how we can negotiate with them,” he said.
A government source said Brady was familiar with the history of the two nations’ dispute in the South China Sea even before being named ambassador in 2006.
The source noted that after the Philippine National Oil Company and China National Offshore Oil Corp, both state-owned, signed a joint marine seismic undertaking (JMSU) covering a portion of the South China Sea in 2004, it was Brady who explained to senior diplomats in the region why Manila had broken ranks with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by going against an agreement to tackle the maritime conflict as a bloc.
Lim said Brady’s previous participation on the JMSU would not be an awkward issue for her because “she was just a witness [to the signing[ and was merely doing her job”.
Brady formerly served as envoy to Thailand and Myanmar, and deputy chief of mission in Indonesia and Thailand. She will concurrently serve as ambassador to North Korea and Mongolia. However, she cannot leave for her new posting until she is confirmed by Congress, which reconvenes in late July.
In the meantime, two recently appointed special envoys to China – Domingo Lee and Cesar Zalamea – are expected to meet Chinese officials. Both presidential-palace and foreign-affairs officials declined to say whether the two envoys were now in Beijing.
Aquino had originally named businessman Lee, a family friend, as ambassador last year but Congress refused to approve the posting, saying he was inexperienced.
Relations between the two countries worsened after Chinese ships stopped Philippine vessels arresting Chinese fishermen in the South China Sea in April.
Both countries have deployed vessels near the disputed Scarborough Shoal, known in China as Huangyan Island, for more than a month to press their conflicting claims to the area.Raissa Robles
South China Morning Post
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