MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines assigned a new ambassador, Erlinda Basilio, to China on Friday (March 15th) to fill a post vacant since August last year amid the growing South China Sea dispute, AFP reported.
Basilio left for Beijing to assume the post vacated when her predecessor, Sonia Brady, suffered a stroke barely three months after assuming office.
In a statement released to reporters, Foreign Department spokesman Raul Hernandez said Basilio's mandate is "to improve Philippine-China relations through projects", a reference to commitments made in 2011 to boost economic, sports, tourism and "people-to-people" ties.
Relations have grown strained over Beijing's claims to most of the South China Sea, including waters close to the shores of its neighbours. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam contest those claims.