MANILA — New Chinese ambassador Huang Xilian arrived past midnight in Manila on Tuesday, December 3, to take up one of China’s most important diplomatic posts. “The best is yet to come” for Philippines-China relations, Huang said in his short message upon arrival.
Huang, a seasoned career diplomat, replaced Zhao Jianhua, who ended his tour of duty in October after five years as China’s top diplomat in the country.
Welcoming China’s former ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) past midnight on Tuesday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were protocol officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, officials from the Chinese embassy and representatives from Chinese communities in the Philippines.
The 52-year-old Huang expressed his “astonishment” at the Philippines’ achievements in recent years under the leadership of President Duterte.
His assignment coincides with the coming 45th anniversary of the establishment of China-Philippines diplomatic relations in 2020.
He said he was “very honored and grateful” to have been designated ambassador to the Philippines, which to him feels like home.
“Since I was a little child, my families have kept telling me that the Philippines which faces China across the sea is our relative with close kinship and cultural bond. Therefore the natural affinity with the Philippines has grown in my heart,” Huang, who was born in Fujian province, said.
“Neighbors wish each other well, just as loved ones do to each other. Since President Duterte took office, the Philippines has made impressive achievement at various areas,” Huang said.
“I have every reason to believe and expect that the country will achieve greater strength and prosperity in the coming years and decades,” he added.
He said the improved relations between the two countries have been generating “more and more tangible benefits for the people, and brought about a closer China-Philippines community of shared future.”
“Good neighbors are a blessing. China and the Philippines enjoy a time honored friendship deeply rooted among the two peoples,” Huang said.
He called the Philippines an “important partner” of China in the latter’s Belt and Road initiative.
China, he said, stands as the Philippines’ top trading partner, the largest source of imports, the third largest export market and the second largest tourist origin.
China’s diplomatic efforts in recent years, led by President Xi Jinping, have helped Beijing “manage” and “control” differences over territory with neighbors and offered other countries a viable way to ease territorial tension.
“China, as it firmly safeguards its sovereignty and rights and interests, has taken a multipronged approach with the parties concerned and actively carried out dialogue and cooperation,” Huang wrote when he was ambassador to ASEAN.