SHANGHAI—At the end of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s landmark visit to China last month, he held a brief private meeting with a businessman who may have played a crucial role in improving ties between the two nations.
Huang Rulun, a rags-to-riches Chinese billionaire funding two huge drug rehabilitation centers in the Philippines, has been held up by Duterte as a symbol of the relationship between the two nations.
Born to a poor family in coastal Fujian province, Huang was a small-time businessman in the Philippines in the 1980s.
He spent five years in Manila’s Chinatown district, Binondo, before returning home to found a construction company, Century Golden Resources Group, according to the company’s web site.
Huang has a “strong emotional connection” with the Philippines, the company said.
According to its web site, privately-held Century Golden now employs 20,000 people and posted close to $5 billion turnover last year. It owns 20 five-star hotels and 10 shopping malls, including the major Century City complex in Beijing.