By Ellen Tordesillas
There are times when things have a way of falling into place.
Malacañang has announced the appointment of a China old hand, Sonia Brady, as ambassador to China which was made possible by the withdrawal of businessman Domingo Lee, whose primary qualification was a friend of the President's parents.
Sen. Serge Osmeña, a member of the Commission on Appointments, had raised questions about Lee's competence for the important position. Lee has been given the title of special envoy to China for tourism affairs. A perfect position for him while he sports the title "ambassador."
Another Fil-Chinese businessman, Cesar Zalamea, has also been named special envoy for trade affairs.
Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President wanted "someone who is already familiar with the politics and culture of that country. That person can hit the ground running."
Brady is perfect for that position and she should be in command of the Beijing post once her nomination is confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.
This is Brady's third posting in Beijing. Midway in her diplomatic career, she was assigned in Beijing as consul from 1976 to 1978.
She capped her career service as ambassador to China from 2006 to 2010. Those were the years when China felt close to the Philippines with Gloria Arroyo almost surrendering Philippine sovereignty to China on disputed areas in the South China Sea.
In exchange for huge, scandal-tainted loans, the Arroyo government entered into a Joint Marine Seismic Survey Undertaking in 2004 with China, and later on Vietnam in a large portion of South China Sea, which is being claimed in parts by six countries and wholly by China.
The problem was, JMSU's coverage included 24,000 square kilometers of undisputed Philippine territory. Six of the islands being claimed by Philippines and China were also covered by the JMSU.
The survey has been completed but has not moved on to joint development.
Brady returns to Beijing, as a political appointee, under a somewhat strained relations with China precipitated by the the arrest by the Philippine Navy of eight Chinese fishing boats last April 9 in Scarborough, also known as Panatag shoal. The incident had led to a standoff between the Philippine Coast Guard and Chinese surveillance ships with the former outnumbered by the latter.
At this challenging phase of Philippine-China relations, with Brady in Beijing, the nation is assured that the conduct of affairs with the world's economic giant is in competent hands.