The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines has stressed China’s strong opposition to its online gambling sector, but says that the country is not on Beijing’s blacklist.
The statement followed a meeting with Ambassador Huang Xilian and Philippines Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Win Gatchalian and Robin Padilla.
The statement reiterated that Chinese citizens gambling overseas, or opening casinos to attract Chinese as primary customers, are breaking Chinese law.
Most of the recent crimes targeted at Chinese citizens in the Philippines are related to Philippines Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs), it said.
The “Chinese government cares about and protects the safety and legitimate interests of each and every overseas Chinese citizen. ”
“Crimes induced by and associated with POGO not only harm China’s interests and China-Philippines relations, but also hurt the interests of the Philippines. It is therefore widely believed that social costs of POGO far outweigh its economic benefits to the Philippines in the long run and POGO should be tackled from the root so as to address the social ills in a sweeping manner,” the statement said.
Not on China blacklist
However, it denied media reports this week that the Philippines had been placed on a blacklist of destinations accused of targeting its nationals for gambling purposes.
It said tourism is an important component of cooperation between China and the Philippines, which has helped further deepen long-term relations between the two. The Philippines attracted almost two million Chinese visitors before the pandemic.
The Philippines has been cracking down on illegal activity amongst unlicensed online gambling companies, which it accuses of being responsible for a rise in violent crime, including kidnapping and human trafficking.
Market regulator, the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), has been working with other government agencies to identify and shut down illegal operations. Thousands of Chinese working in these firms have also been deported.
The rise in crime has led to the introduction of a bill in the Senate to ban online gambling entirely, with the proponents arguing that the amount of revenue generated for the government is insufficient to offset the societal problems.
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