House gives Congressional Medal of Achievement to China envoy

Mara Cepeda
House gives Congressional Medal of Achievement to China envoy
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, whom Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua congratulated for winning the speakership race in July, co-authors the House resolution honoring the outgoing diplomat

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives gave a rockstar treatment to outgoing Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, who received the Congressional Medal of Achievement from lawmakers.

On Monday, November 4, legislators adopted House Resolution (HR) No. 474 in the presence of Zhao, who was praised for his work and contribution in “fostering stronger Philippines-China bilateral relations.”

“Now, therefore, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, that the House of Representatives honors the work and contribution of His Excellency Zhao Jianhua, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Philippines in fostering stronger Philippines-China bilateral relations and confer upon him the Congressional Medal of Achievement,” said HR 474.

It was authored by ranking members of the House, led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr, and House committee on foreign affairs chairperson Ann Hofer.

The resolution highlighted Zhao’s role in helping the governments of the Philippines and China to “resolve their differences in a friendly manner.”

Lawmakers credited Zhao for facilitating the 4 state visits to China by President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the Philippines in 2018.  

They also praised the Chinese ambassador as the Asian economic giant became the Philippines’ top trading partner, 4th largest export market at $8.7 billion in 2018, and top import supplier at $21.39 billion.

“While there may be real and difficult issues remaining between the Philippines and China, through the work and contribution of Ambassador Jianhua, the Philippine government is certain that the lines of communication between the Philippines and China shall always remain open to resolve peacefully any difference between our countries and peoples,” said HR 474. 

The medal was created through House Resolution No. 453 in 2002 to “enable the House of Representatives to honor political, economic, and cultural leaders who have distinguished themselves through their life-work and vision.”

It is not surprising for Cayetano to pen the resolution honoring Zhao, who released a rare statement along with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi congratulating the Taguig City-Pateros congressman on his election as House Speaker in July.

Still, it is not unusual for the House leadership to honor a foreign ambassador to the Philippines as this has been done in the past. In 2016, the House under then-speaker Pantaleon Alvarez gave the Golden Mace Award to United States Ambassador Philip Goldberg. 

Zhao is set to leave the Philippines this month after his posting ended in October. He became Beijing’s envoy to Manila in 2014. 

President Rodrigo Duterte already conferred upon the outgoing Chinese ambassador the Order of Sikatuna with the Rank of Datu. The Davao City government also passed a resolution citing Zhao’s “historic achievements.

Read a full copy of HR 474 below:  

 

 Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.