MANILA - Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said on Thursday that he is confident his country and the Philippines would maintain a “good neighborhood” where both countries help each other despite unresolved disputes in the South China Sea.
In a Facebook post on the recently concluded Special China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in Chongqing on Monday, the envoy said such environment could also help Beijing and Manila in developing its ties instead of “showing off power.”
Huang also spoke of the “great talk” that Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. had about the two sides' relationship.
He described them as “two good friends.” It was their third face-to face meeting this year.
"We are confident that China and the Philippines will continue to observe the ‘good neighborhood’, giving helping hands rather than showing off power, and working together for the sustained development of China-Philippines relations,” according to the official.
"Looking forward to greater development of China-ASEAN and China-Philippines relations... This truly reflects how much importance and high expectations we attach to our relations under the new circumstances," he added.
The meeting, co-chaired by Wang and Locsin, was held to mark the 30th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China dialogue relations.
ASEAN foreign ministers and China agreed during the meeting to exercise restraint in the South China Sea and avoid actions that could escalate tensions.
China has continued to ramp up militarization and island-building activities in the waters, with hundreds of ships known to have lingered in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
The Philippines serves as the current country coordinator for ASEAN-China relations.
Huang also made the statement a day after the 46th anniversary of Philippines-China Diplomatic Relations and the 20th Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day celebration.
The two countries are locked in a dispute over resource-rich West Philippine Sea in the South China Sea, but President Rodrigo Duterte has pursued friendly ties with China despite Beijing's continuing incursions within Philippine territory.
Earlier this year, hundreds of Chinese ships were found inside Manila's exclusive economic zone, refusing to leave despite repeated demands and protests by Philippine authorities and criticisms by several countries.
As of May 28 this year, the country has filed 99 protest notes against China.