The Chinese embassy in Manila has rejected Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s claim that its government would retaliate if the Philippines deports illegal Chinese workers from the country.
The embassy said this in a statement released earlier today and posted on its official Twitter account.
The statement was given after Panelo said on Tuesday that the Chinese ambassador in Manila, Zhao Jianhua, told him that if the Philippines were to deport illegal Chinese workers, his government would do the same and deport Filipino workers from China.
Panelo even called it a “tit for tat” approach.
To be fair, he was just parroting the same line that his boss President Rodrigo Duterte said. Over the weekend, Duterte said he didn’t want to order the deportation of Chinese workers because they might do the same thing to Filipino workers living in China.
However, the Chinese Embassy rejected Panelo’s statement. Cue the awkward laughter.
It said: “The Chinese embassy in the Philippines did not say that Beijing would adopt a ‘tit-for-tat’ approach should the Philippine government deport Chinese nationals found working illegally in the country.”
The Chinese Embassy has taken note of media reports on the Presidential spokesperson’s remarks on illegal Chinese workers in the Philippines. The Chinese Embassy hereby clarifies as follows: pic.twitter.com/hva6fqNmE9
— ChineseEmbassyManila (@Chinaembmanila) February 28, 2019
It didn’t end there. It also added that it does not encourage its citizens to work illegally in the Philippines, or any foreign country for that matter.
The statement read: “China respects the laws and regulations of the Philippines regarding employment of foreign nationals in the country, and holds that Chinese nationals should not stay or work illegally in foreign countries including the Philippines.”
Finally, it said that it always encourages its citizens to respect the Philippines’ laws.
“The Chinese government has always requested Chinese nationals in the Philippines to observe the (sic) Philippine laws and regulations. The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines has been issuing consular notices in this regard,” it said.
Chinese workers in the Philippines have reportedly increased in the past few years, with many of them working in gaming companies where their language skills are needed, ABS-CBN reported.
This has sparked worry among critics, who say that Filipinos are losing out to the Chinese. They pointed out that the 1987 Constitution mandates that Filipinos should get preferential treatment when it comes to employment.
The controversy has heated up so much that the Senate is currently conducting an investigation into the reported influx of Chinese workers.
Duterte’s government is generally perceived to have pro-China policies with the president even announcing an economic and military split from the United States, one of its oldest allies. He also added that he has aligned himself ideologically with China.
Because of its closer ties with the Asian superpower, the Philippine government has secured billion-peso loans that critics have described as onerous.