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Manila Bulletin - 2021-05-05

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'I apologized only to China's foreign minister', says Locsin

National News

By ROY C. MABASA

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday said he apologized for his profanity-laden tweet against China only to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and not to the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines. This was contrary to an earlier statement made by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that the DFA secretary “personally apologized” to Ambassador Huang Xilian over the controversial tweet. “Hindi sa Chinese ambassador. Trabaho niya ay tumanggap ng reklamo o insulto. Kay State Counselor Foreign Minister Wang Yi, ang pinaka matalino at personableng diplomat sa buong mundo. (Not to the Chinese ambassador. His job is to receive complaints and insults. It’s with State Counselor Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the most intelligent and personable diplomat in the world). Harry understands my hairtrigger temper under repeated provocation,” Locsin said in a tweet. In a Twitter post on Monday, Locsin expressed his apparent exasperation over China’s belligerent actions in the West Philippine Sea, the latest of which was the Chinese Coast Guard’s blocking of the Philippine Coast Guards vessels conducting maritime exercises in Philippine waters. “China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see... O... Get the f—k out. What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re trying. Yu. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province,” the country’s top diplomat said in a tweet that made headlines in many parts of the world. After talking to Locsin, Roque stated that the President’s message to his Cabinet is very clear: Profanity has no place in diplomacy. The Palace spokesman admitted that the President’s reminder against rude and disrespectful remarks towards China stemmed from Locsin’s tweet. He, however, pointed out that the President did not ask the DFA secretary to apologize. In a subsequent tweet, Locsin claimed that his “hair-trigger temper” compelled him to post an expletive-laced message against China. “Wish I didn’t have a hair-trigger temper but what can you do, Montelibano blood,” the foreign secretary said, referring to his blood relation with the landed Montelibano clan from Negros and Western Visayas. ‘Deeply regret’ Locsin admitted he would “deeply regret” losing his “friendship” with Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi. In one of his latest tweets, Locsin believes he did not “shoot his foot” when he apologized to China for his expletives but instead spoke of his “open and candid” friendship with his Chinese counterpart. “Our friendship is open and candid; we talk out issues after the formal presentation of this or that complaint or initiative. Last meeting for one hour lasted 3; mostly on what might best be done in bad situations. I’d deeply regret losing his friendship,” the country’s top diplomat said. Locsin may be referring to his last meeting with Wang Yi on April 1, 2021 where he, along with the foreign ministers of Indonesia and Malaysia, was invited to China for talks ahead of the ASEAN Leaders Summit in Jakarta. “He mentored me in my Myanmar understanding and response. I went to China to get his advice before the ASEAN leaders summit and followed it to the letter,” the DFA secretary said in a separate tweet. In apologizing to the Chinese foreign minister, Locsin said he is “sorry for hurting his feelings but his alone,” adding that it is only Wang Yi’s opinion that matters. He also expressed his admiration for the Chinese official whose elegance has been his “elusive dream to copy until I attain in mind and manner.” “Oh, just the most elegant and intelligent foreign diplomat in history; up there with Lavrov but in a different way,” he added. The former newspaper publisher and a politician-turned diplomat said he suddenly realized that his friendship with Wang Yi was on the line prompting him to tweet his concern about their friendship. “That must continue. He’s my idol in diplomacy. (I think his idol and mine is Lavrov.) I add Mike Pompeo. Blinken is emerging as a force in his own right,” he said.

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