Newly appointed Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian has committed to institutionalize the conduct of regular meetings between the Philippines and China to thresh out issues involving the Duterte administration’s big-ticket infrastructure and development projects that are being implemented with funding support from China.
Ambassador Huang made this commitment in response to the proposal of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to hold regular dialogues between high-level officials of the Philippines and China to address such concerns.
In his recent courtesy visit to Secretary Dominguez, Beijing’s new ambassador also reiterated China’s commitment to further enhance its bilateral relations with the Philippines and heighten cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.
“It would be very helpful if we have a regular meetings regarding these projects. Our suggestion has always been to meet once every three or four months,” Secretary Dominguez said.
Ambassador Huang agreed with the Finance Secretary, and said he would “work very hard” to ensure that projects under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure modernization program that are being implemented in cooperation with China would be launched “as soon as possible.”
“We will try to make this (regular meetings) happen as soon as possible. My suggestion is we need to institutionalize that kind of mechanism. Every three months to take place, every quarter,” Ambassador Huang said.
He said that when he was assigned several years ago to Pakistan, he made a similar suggestion to hold periodic meetings every two months between top officials of their countries to cement their bilateral relations.
Ambassador Huang, who replaced Ambassador Zhao Jianhua as China’s ambassador to the Philippines, presented his credentials to President Duterte last Dec. 4.
According to the Ambassador, he was informed by his staff at the Chinese Embassy that 10 projects in the Philippines “are being completed” in cooperation with China.
“We hope all these projects will bring real tangible benefits to our peoples,” he said.
The two officials also discussed ways of improving people-to-people an cultural exchanges between the two countries, particularly in the fields of sports, music and entertainment.
During the meeting, Ambassador Huang cited the key role played by Secretary Dominguez in promoting understanding between the Philippines and China, and described the Finance Secretary as among the “major architects of cooperation” between the two countries.
Secretary Dominguez, however, said that he is only a member of the economic team–with President Duterte at the helm–that moved towards improving the Philippines’ relations with China over the past three years.
“We would like to build on that understanding between (Chinese) President Xi Jinping and President Rodrigo Duterte. We want to make sure that the way forward is smooth and mutually beneficial for both sides,” Secretary Dominguez said.
Ambassador Huang said that China attaches “great importance to the implementation of the consensus (on cooperation) reached between our leaders.”