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China waves olive branch at ASEAN

The Palace on Wednesday said China’s appeal that the Philippines and Hong Kong mend their strained relations came too late, since the two countries had already agreed to “put behind” them the hostage-taking incident at the Luneta in 2010. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda Said that when China made the appeal, President Benigno Aquino III and Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-Ying, had already met in Indonesia to discuss the issue and both had agreed to put the issue behind them. “[China is] too late. The Hong Kong chief executive and the President has already met yesterday [Tuesday] in Bali [Indonesia],” said Lacierda, referring to the meeting between Aquino and Leung during the the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperatiom (APEC) Leaders’ meeting in Bali, Indonesia. On Leung’s request, Aquino also agreed to schedule a dialog with the survivors and the families of those who died in the incident. While the meeting was ongoing, China also released a statement urging the Philippines to take “substantial action” to address the problem with Hong Kong on the hostage crisis issue. China added that it supports the Hong Kong special Administrative Region (SAR) government position to keep the lines of communication and coordination open with the Philippines with regards to the incident. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the statement after Chinese President Xi Jinping met Leung at the sidelines of the APEC Leaders’ meeting. Hua said Leung raised the matter with Xi, who agreed to follow up on the issue before the Philippine government. On August 23, 2010, dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza held hostage a bus filled with tourists, and after a botched negotiation, killed eight HK nationals and injured seven others. Mendoza himself was killed by responding policemen, but the survivors and the relatives of the victims later demanded an apology from the Philippine government for its alleged mishandling of the rescue mission. The incident has prompted the Hong Kong security Bureau to issue a black travel warning to its citizens against visiting the Philippines. The Hong Kong government has yet to lift the travel alert.
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