World

Chinese minister abruptly postpones Manila trip

MANILA: China's commerce minister decided to postpone an official trip to the Philippines yesterday to sign about 40 joint projects worth billions of dollars, sources at the Philippines trade and finance ministries said.

It was not immediately clear what was behind the abrupt postponement of what would have been an important development in a new era of engagement between the two historic rivals under President Rodrigo Duterte, who has praised the leadership of Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

But two Philippine officials, who asked not to be identified, suggested that Beijing may have been irked by comments on Tuesday by foreign minister Perfecto Yasay about China's activities in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng was due to arrive in Manila yesterday with a large delegation but China informed the Philippines on Wednesday afternoon they would not be coming, the two sources said.

LAST-MINUTE DECISION

"It was a last-minute decision," said one of the officials. "We were only informed about it and we're not privy to any information about the cancellation." - REUTERS

ChinaPhilippinesSouth China Sea