MANILA, Philippines – China on Wednesday welcomed the appointment of Erlinda Basilio as the Philippines’ new envoy to China, saying that its country hoped that the new ambassador would contribute to the development of the two countries’ bilateral relations.
“We attach importance to our relations with the Philippines. It is our hope that the early appointment of the new ambassador may facilitate the communication between both sides and the development of our bilateral relations,” Zhang Hua, spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in Manila, said in a statement.
The 68-year old seasoned diplomat, who had helped draft national diplomatic policy in her stint as foreign department undersecretary, was named to the post by President Benigno Aquino III. She would take over the post left vacant at the height of tensions involving territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Basilio would be replacing Sonia Brady, who had to leave her post and return to Manila after she suffered a stroke in August.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also backed Basilio’s appointment, saying that it was confident that Basilio could carry out her task of enhancing the relationship between the Philippines and China.
In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario noted that the department was endeavoring to significantly enhance the country’s bilateral relations with China, adding that they were counting on Basilio to “play a major role in achieving our defined objectives.”
“Our nominee is a seasoned senior diplomat who brings with her experience and expertise in dealing with all current matters pertaining to our relations with China. She moreover enjoys the confidence of the President,” Del Rosario said in a statement.
“We are relying on her to enhance the bilateral relations between the Philippines and our very important neighbor and friend, China,” DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said in a statement.
China claims most of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), including waters close to the shores of its neighbors. These areas include major sea lanes and are believed to hold vast mineral and oil resources.
China’s claim is contested by the Philippines as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, which have overlapping claims to some or all of those same areas.
Hernandez had earlier said that Basilio would be representing the Philippines in four-way talks in Manila next week, where representatives from other claimant countries—Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam agreed to come to Manila on Dec. 12 to discuss their territorial disputes with China.