The appointment of Permanent Representative to the United Nations Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr. as Foreign Affairs Secretary was welcomed by no less than Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
In a statement reported by Beijing’s state-run Xinhua news agency, Wang said he is willing to build a “close personal friendship” and wants to foster ties with Locsin to deepen cooperation between the Philippines and China.
“I am willing to establish a good working relationship and a close personal friendship with you to further deepen strategic mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation between the two countries,” Wang said.
“I also want to keep close contacts and coordination on regional and international issues, jointly promote healthy and stable development of the bilateral ties and maintain regional peace and stability,” he added.
Wang cited in his message the improved relationship between the Philippines and China which, he said, has brought tangible benefits to citizens of both countries.
The Beijing-Manila bilateral relations went sour when the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III filed initiated international arbitration proceedings over the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Ties between the Philippines and China have improved under President Rodrigo Duterte who has taken a softer stance on Manila’s maritime dispute with Beijing compared to his predecessor.
Locsin replaced former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano who is running for Taguig City congressman in the 2019 elections.
Several lawmakers hailed the appointment of Locsin as DFA secretary, given his track record in various fields. Prior to becoming an ambassador, Locsin was a TV journalist, lawmaker and newspaper publisher.
He served as Makati representative from 2001 to 2010.