The Philippines said on Monday it would bring home its new ambassador to China after she suffered a stroke, but stressed the move would not affect efforts to solve a territorial dispute over the South China Sea.
Veteran diplomat Sonia Brady, 71, who was picked to help ease tensions with China, is “recovering slowly” after she was rushed to a Beijing hospital last week, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said.
“Hopefully if the recovery rate continues, we maybe able to bring her back to the Philippines in about two weeks time,” he said.
Del Rosario said there would be “no adverse impact” on the dispute in the South China Sea and the embassy’s charge d’affaires was on hand to take on diplomatic relations.
Brady was named ambassador in May, a month after a territorial row erupted over the Scarborough Shoal.
The government said Brady was picked largely for her familiarity with Chinese culture and politics having already served as ambassador there from 2006 to 2010.
Tensions flared when the Philippines sent its biggest warship to arrest Chinese fishermen at the shoal in the South China Sea.
The outcrop of rocks sits about 230 kilometres from the western coast of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon. The nearest major Chinese landmass is 1,200 kilometres northwest, according to Philippine navy maps.
China claims the shoal along with most of the South China Sea, even up to the coasts of its Asian neighbours, while the Philippines claims the shoal as being well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
The sea is a major shipping route and is believed to hold vast mineral resources.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said del Rosario and President Benigno Aquino had yet to discuss at length a possible replacement for Brady.