From Michael Yang to Dennis Uy: Who’s who at Xi Jinping state banquet

Pia Ranada
From Michael Yang to Dennis Uy: Who’s who at Xi Jinping state banquet
Lawmakers like Arthur Yap and Sonny Belmonte, leaders of Filipino-Chinese groups, and even a reporter from a Chinese television station are guests at the state dinner

MANILA, Philippines – The “who’s who” among Filipino-Chinese businessmen and Chinese nationals close to the administration were the guests at the state banquet held in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, November 20.

Chinese businessmen and leading members of the Filipino-Chinese community donned their suits, barong and Filipiniana gowns for the affair in Malacañang.

Photos of the banquet sent to Rappler showed that among them was President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic affairs consultant Michael Yang, a Chinese national whom the President had earlier cleared of drug links despite supposed allegations of his involvement in illegal drugs trade.

Yang, wearing a suit and red tie, posed for a group photos with various Philippine government officials, including Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, one of the few men wearing a bow tie that night.

Duterte’s Special Envoy to China, businessman of Oishi fame Carlos Chan, was also in attendance. 

Dennis Uy, whose company, Udenna Corporation is in the consortium with China Telecommunications Corporation that was provisionally named the 3rd telecommunication player, was spotted at the banquet.

Uy, who hails from Duterte’s hometown of Davao City, is also his presidential adviser on sports.

A barong-clad Lucio Tan and Michael Tan of the LT Group of Companies were seated in one table. William Gatchalian of the Wellex Group and father of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian was also at the banquet.

Lawmakers like Bohol 3rd District Representative Arthur Yap and Quezon City 4th District Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr were spotted in photos sent to Rappler. Another prominent local politician, Chavit Singson of Ilocos Sur, was among the guests.

There too were leaders of business groups, like Angel Ngu and Mary Ng of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc (FFCCCII), wearing a barong and black Filipiniana gown, respectively.

Aside from Yang, other Chinese nationals at the state banquet include Jose Kho, a leading member of the Friends of the Philippines Foundation which donated a P500-million drug rehabilitation facility in Bukidnon. The center was inaugurated by Duterte and Kho last August.

Kho, who was awarded a Kamagi Medal of the Order of Lapu-Lapu by Duterte, is also associated with the Kho Group and UAA Kinming Development Corporation, whose officials he accompanied during their meetings with Duterte. Those companies are proposing massive reclamation in Manila to construct a “smart city.”

Also present was reporter Zhu Yanfang from Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television.

While President Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte Carpio was his companion in welcoming Xi to Malacañang, it was Duterte’s longtime partner Honeylet Avanceña who joined him at the state banquet.

Malacañang photos showed Avanceña, dressed in an embroidered cream Filipiniana, entering Rizal Hall with Duterte and Xi. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at