It wasn't Huang's first trip to the Southeast Asian neighbor, but was his first Christmas celebration in a country known for its long Yuletide Season.
In an interview with WOW! China, a co-produced program between Philippine Broadcasting Service-Radyo Pilipinas (PBS-RP) and China Media Group (CMG), the Ambassador shared how he celebrated with the employees of the Chinese Embassy in Manila, his new-found family away from home.
"I invited their families, including their kids, to join us during the celebration and all of them enjoyed being with us. We are very appreciative of their excellent service, and of course they treat us as members of their family. That's how we celebrated Christmas, like a big family", he said.
A testament to the friendship, forged in history, Huang also saw this bond as a reiteration of the political and economic relationship of the two countries that gets better as the years unfold.
He lauded Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's pivot to warmer ties with China, which he thinks is a reflection of mutual trust between the two countries, a stark improvement compared to the diplomatic relations they had more than 4 decades ago.
"There was no exchange of visits between the people at that time because of lack of trust. But now, we have established a high level of relationship, of comprehensive cooperative relations. This is a very high positioning of our relationship to promote peace, and stability to prosper", the diplomat explained.
The new year is big for the Philippines and China as they celebrate their 45 years of diplomatic relations.
H.E. Huang Xilian (2nd on the left), with WOW! China anchors Merry Ann Bastasa (2nd on the right), Sissi Wang (1st on the right), Ernest Wang (1st on the left)
Huang, Beijing's former ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), thinks that the year ahead stores bright opportunities for the two countries, and promised that China will continue to fulfill its cooperative agreements with the Philippines.
"We need to make sure all the cooperation will progress smoothly and bear tangible fruits that will benefit the people. At the moment, we have already completed 10 projects, including two rehabilitation centers, and 13 schools in the southern Philippines", he said.
"It is also important to garner support from the people, mutual understanding is very important. While we move forward, we have to bear in mind that the support of the people is always crucial", added Huang.
2020 is also an important year for China as it announced the building of a moderately prosperous society. President Xi Jinping has reiterated its continuous efforts to achieve this first centennial goal by the end of this year, an important milestone for China.
The Philippines, meanwhile, with its Build, Build, Build infrastructure program and its 2040 socio-economic vision, is poised to benefit from China's development and learn from its fast-growing economy and poverty eradication program.
"There was once a saying in China that to get rich, one should build roads first. When infrastructure was prioritized and strengthened in every part of China, progress followed. We also have quite a similar condition in terms of poverty, and we can share our experience with the Philippines in eradicating poverty, and in supporting the efforts of the government", Huang said.
Like his predecessor, Huang also faces diplomatic challenges in his new post, particularly the politically-charged South China Sea issue. But while its normal for neighbors to have differences, Huang believes that working together will iron out any dispute.
"We have been maintaining that all differences should be handled through friendly consultations, and negotiations between the stakeholders. So, we should handle them through peaceful means and we should not allow differences to become hindrances" he explained.
Before assuming his post, Huang used to head the working group consultation on the Code of Conduct (COC) of the South China Sea. The first reading has been completed in 2019, and the new ambassador is positive that the COC will be concluded as the Philippines sits as ASEAN-China coordinator this year. #
Photo credit: Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Philippines
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