Locsin, new China envoy ring in 2020 together

2020. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr celebrates the New Year with newly-appointed Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian. Photo from Chinese embassy in Manila

2020. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr celebrates the New Year with newly-appointed Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian.

Photo from Chinese embassy in Manila

Newly appointed Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian has wasted no time in his new stint, meeting top Philippine officials in back-to-back courtesy calls after arriving in the country last December 3.

But as 2020 begins, Huang welcomed a special guest to ring in the start of a new decade with him: Foreign Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr. The joint New Year celebration was held after Huang invited Locsin to his home on Thursday, January 2.

Huang showed a rare pop of color as he dressed in a deep red Chinese collar suit, while Locsin donned a white barong. Huang’s New Year attire was a departure from his usual suit-and-tie, which came in stark contrast to his predecessor Zhao Jianhua’s typically colorful outfits.

In a series of photos released by the Chinese embassy in the Philippines on Friday, January 3, the two diplomats were seen having a friendly chat while another photo showed Locsin painting Chinese characters onto a scroll.

PARTY. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr starts the New Year in Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian's home. Photo from Chinese embassy in Manila

PARTY. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr starts the New Year in Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian's home.

Photo from Chinese embassy in Manila

The night also included some talk on business with Locsin and Huang discussing issues such as the Philippines' and China's oil and gas deal and major infrastructure projects.

In a statement on Friday, the Chinese embassy said the two diplomats looked back on the past year with "satisfaction" over the progress of Philippines-China relations and were optimistic about developing ties further as the two countries are scheduled to celebrate the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2020.

The past year, however, saw heated issues arise between Manila and Beijing. Among these were online gambling, which China asked the Philippine government to ban, and the sinking and abandonment of Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver by a Chinese trawler in Recto Bank in June 2019, which put a spotlight on the Duterte administration's policy in the West Philippine Sea and tested bilateral relations.

Despite this, Locsin and Huang entered the New Year with a resolution to "work jointly in the spirit of 'seizing the day and living it to the full.'"

Other officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Chinese embassy were among the guests who attended the celebration. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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