AMBASSADOR Huang Xilian, a seasoned career diplomat, will find shoes too big to fill at the Chinese embassy, what with Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, diplomat par excellence, being his predecessor.
Zhao ended his tour of duty in October after five years as China’s top diplomat in the country.
But the new Chinese ambassador to the Philippines looked undaunted as he presented his credentials to President Duterte in Malacanang on Dec. 5. He exuded the aura of a smart envoy who is well prepared for his job. And he is.
Born in Fujian province some 52 years ago, Huang Xilian grew up with family members telling him that the Philippines, which faces China across the sea, is “our relative with close kinship and cultural bond.” Therefore, he said, the “natural affinity with the Philippines has grown in my heart.”
Huang has expressed optimism that the Philippines will achieve greater strength and prosperity in the coming years, even as he cited that his country is the Philippines’ top trading partner, the largest source of imports, the third largest export market and the second largest tourist origin.
He also cited the Philippines as an “important partner” of China in the latter’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The ambassador is expected to bolster China’s diplomatic efforts in recent years as drafted by President Xi Jinping. This diplomacy has helped Beijing manage differences in 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 multi-pronged approach with the parties concerned and actively carried out dialogue and cooperation,” Huang wrote recently.
One of the new envoy’s first moves was to meet with the ruling coalition, the PDP Laban, to work for greater friendship and cooperation with the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Huang noted that the two parties “shoulder great responsibilities to further develop their countries and improve the capacity for governance.”
As the Philippines and China mark their 45th year of diplomatic relations next year, the ambassador said he was “ready to make all efforts to work together and further promote high-level exchanges, facilitate practical cooperation, and enhance mutual trust and understanding between the two countries.”
Clearly, Ambassador Huang is the right man for the job.