The Chinese presence in Cebu

THE face of the Chinese nation in Cebu is that of its consul general, Shi Yong, who may seem aloof until he breaks into a smile and one sees the warmth within. He was born in May 1970 and earned a Master of Laws degree. But rather than proceed to become a lawyer, he applied for work at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Consul general Shi joined China’s MFA in 1992 as staff member, Department of African Affairs. From 1995 to 1998, he was at the Chinese Center in South Africa and in 1998, he was promoted to Third Secretary of the Chinese Embassy also in South Africa. From 1999 to 2003, he was based in China as second secretary, deputy director, of MFA’s Department of Personnel. In 2003, he was vice mayor of Gaobeidian City, Hebei Province. From 2004 to 2007, he was back at the MFA, this time as director of the Department of Personnel. From 2007 to 2010, he was deputy consul general of China in New York and in 2010 to 2013, he was Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Israel. Before his posting in Cebu in 2016, he was counselor of the MFA Protocol Department.

Consul Shi defines a good consul general as one who “must be loyal to his country and work for the interests of the mother country.”

“But he also has to work for bilateral relations and promote the interests of the country where he stays,” said the consul general.

“Cebu has different levels of people. You should go to the villages, the small towns.”

Indeed, he has gone to the southern town of Oslob where, in partnership with the local government, he has set up some Chinese signs to guide the Chinese tourists who don’t speak English but who are coming more and more to Cebu. He will be going to other towns where Chinese tourists go and do more of the same as more Chinese tourists are visiting Central Visayas. He said when he first came here, there was only one flight a week from China. Now there are six. He says this shows improved bilateral relations between the two countries.

Consul general Shi has been in Cebu since 2016. He said postings like this usually last three to four years. So during his time here, he said: “I will follow the steps of the national leaders and take practical measures to promote bilateral relations.” Where drugs are concerned, Consul Shi says his country is strictly against it.

Cebu may look like a Chinatown at times but the consul general said there are only a few Chinese nationals in the area. The Chinese here have taken Filipino citizenship and most are adding to the growth of the country. Asked what he likes most about his being in Cebu, Chinese consul general Shi Yong said: “Local people are friendly and always give support to bilateral cooperation and exchanges. Also, I can enjoy the convenience of a modern city and the beauty of nature at the same time.”

As a certified scuba diver, consul general Shi’s Cebu posting definitely becomes him!
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