Malacañang Palace Appoint Sonia Brady - A New Diplomat for China

Malacañang PalaceDuring one of the Philippines' worst diplomatic crises in recent history, a tense stand-off with Asian superpower China, talks have been hobbled by the lack of an ambassador in Beijing.

President Benigno Aquino III has finally appointed one, career diplomat Sonia Brady, a China veteran who had already been ambassador there from 2006-2010, as well as a young consul  in the 1970s.

She is also a former ambassador to Myanmar and Thailand.

Aquino's previous appointee, businessman and family friend Domingo Lee, was not approved by Congress' Commission on Appointments because some lawmakers had questioned his qualifications.

Aquino wanted "someone who is already familiar with the politics and the culture of that country. That person can hit the ground running," said spokeswoman Abigail Valte of Brady.

However Brady cannot assume her post until Congress approves her appointment, Valte said.

Valte added that Brady would have concurrent jurisdiction over North Korea and Mongolia. North Korea is considered by many countries as one of the most unpredictable states in the world. It attempted a rocket launch in April that was suspected to be a weapons test, but the launch failed.

Brady's appointment has come as tensions are high between the Philippines and China because of the stand-off at Panatag Shoal, a crisis that has entered its seventh week.

The crisis was triggered last April when Philippine military forces spotted Chinese fishermen gathering marine species but were blocked by Chinese vessels from making arrests.

Valte said Brady is no stranger to Beijing, having been ambassador there from April 2006 to January 2010. She said Brady was in China for President Aquino's state visit to China in 2011, and briefed Aquino and his delegation.

Brady has a master of arts in international relations from the University of Southern California and a foreign service degree from the University of the Philippines, Valte added.

"So isang career diplomat si Sonia Brady (So we can say Brady is a career diplomat)," she said.

Valte said Brady's other career highlights included:

- Ambassador to Thailand 2002 to 2003

- Ambassador to Myanmar 1995 to 1999

- Deputy Chief of Mission to Indonesia 1994 to 95

- Deputy Chief of Mission to Thailand 1992 to 94

- Third Secretary and Vice Consul, Second Secretary and Consul of the Philippine Embassy in Beijing from 1976 to 1978

- Undersecretary for Policy July 2003 to 2006

- Assistant Secretary to the Office of the Secretary for policy and coordination

- Director of the Office of the Asia-Pacific

- Assistant at the office of policy affairs

Last May 10, Aquino appointed Domingo Lee as a special envoy to China assigned to promote tourism for just six months, essentially giving up the effort to have him approved by the Commission on Appointments.

Aquino also appointed Cesar Zalamea, current chairman and chief executive officer of Focus Range International Limited, as a special envoy to advance Philippine economic interests in China by "pursuing initiatives aimed at increasing Chinese investments in the Philippines."

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