Arrest of Chinese in online gambling case won’t strain Sino-Philippine relations

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/29 0:28:39

A dramatic turning point was seen on Monday when Philippine media reported that the country's immigration officials confirmed that over 900 Chinese people that had been rounded up by the police for allegedly living and working illegally were in the country legally. Reuters suggested the arrest could put a strain on the Sino-Philippine ties that have warmed in recent months.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Monday said China had requested that the Philippines quickly release individuals who have legal identification. But  the world should not read too much into the situation. It is quite normal for China to make such a statement. At the very least, the government has a responsibility and an obligation to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens living overseas.

Beijing is likely to pay close attention to whether Manila appropriately deals with the matter and will perhaps take necessary measures to protect Chinese citizens. The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines intervened in the investigation asking the Philippine authorities to enforce its law impartially and to also provide medical assistance for Chinese citizens who are sick. We believe that the timely intervention does not put a strain on bilateral ties, but instead contributes to the prevention of further escalation of the events.

Philippine immigration authorities arrested Chinese nationals last week who were suspected to be working illegally for an online gambling operator at a resort and casino complex. Although the Philippines has since confirmed that they are in the country legally, the Chinese nationals were blamed by Chinese netizens for engaging in online gambling in the Philippines. Online gambling is not illegal in the Philippines but is generally restricted by government laws. Some Chinese netizens said Philippine authorities should deal with the matter in accordance with Philippine laws.

In the past, China has expressed support for the Philippines' anti-narcotics campaign and is unlikely to stand in opposition to a crackdown on online gambling in the country. Gambling in the Chinese mainland is illegal under Chinese law and the authorities do not encourage Chinese nationals to go abroad to engage in online gambling. The government should continue to roll out measures to prevent illegal recruitment of Chinese nationals to work overseas without valid visas or to engage in industries like gambling. Otherwise, it is inevitable that China will be troubled by friction even with friendly countries in this regard.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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