MANILA, May 28 (Mabuhay) — China’s Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian on Friday thanked outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte for his “great contributions” to stronger ties between Manila and Beijing, and wished him the best once he steps down from office.

Huang posted a photo on social media that supposedly taken in Malacañang on May 25, when Duterte received 4 new diplomats from Greece, Cambodia, Argentina, and Indonesia.

“Happy to join other ambassadors to meet His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 25 May. I extended my gratitude to President Duterte for his great contributions to the development of China-Philippines relationship in the past 6 years,” the Chinese envoy said.

“I also showed my sincere respect to him for adhering to an independent foreign policy. I wish him every success and expect his continuous support to China-Philippines friendship,” he added.

Duterte, who is set to leave the Palace on June 30, pursued warmer relations with China in his 6 years in office, while Beijing offered infrastructure and pandemic aid amid its incursions in the West Philippine Sea, the country’s exclusive economic zone in the strategic South China Sea.

While a Hague tribunal junked China’s claims in the disputed waters, Beijing continues to shun the ruling. It has ramped up militarization in the area.

In May 2021, Huang said the South China Sea dispute was supposedly “properly handled” under the Duterte administration.

Huang said the two countries have committed to peace and friendship since Duterte assumed office in 2016. During his presidential campaign, Duterte vowed to plant a Philippine flag in Spratlys, while riding a jet ski, to assert the country’s sovereignty there.

Duterte in April told Huang that Manila and Bejing “do not have any quarrel” about the Spratlys. (MNS)

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