MALACAÑANG on Tuesday said Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua has asked the government to “strictly” monitor the entry of Chinese nationals, calling them exploited by the gaming industry.

“Concerned siya sa mga… Chinese national, na parang inaapi nung mga employer — ‘yun ang concern niya. Kailangan maging strict tayo na hindi makapasok dito without passing through the legal requirements,” (He is concerned about Chinese being abused by employers, and called on the Philippines to be strict in letting in people who do not meet the legal requirements) the President’s Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said at a news conference on Tuesday, a day after he met with Mr. Zhao.

He added: “We talked about the concern of the Chinese government on their Chinese nationals. He was telling me that we should be very strict on the compliance by Chinese employers… Kasi raw iyong mga kinukuha nilang Chinese nationals are in constant fear because according to him, iyon daw mga employers, kinuha iyong mga pasaporte niladi hindi sila makaalis. So takot na takot dahil baka kung they’re not here through legal means, either makulong sila or madi-deport (employers take their passports and cannot leave. They fear for their legal status and are afraid of being jailed or deported).”

In a statement, Mr. Panelo said: “Ambassador Zhao gave assurances that his government does not consent to any illegal entry or employment of its citizens in the country. In addition, he expressed concern on the possible exploitation of Chinese citizens in illegal gambling operations in the country and called for cooperation in strictly monitoring the situation and swift investigation and prosecution of those responsible.”

Gambling is prohibited in China, and Chinese must go to places where the practice is allowed, such as Macau, or engage in online gaming.

Mr. Panelo added that they also discussed the loan agreements between the Philippines and China.

He said they “share a similar view that the terms of the agreements were competently and fully negotiated by both parties on equal footing.”

“According to Ambassador Zhao, it is the strong and robust economy of the Philippines that led the Chinese Government to extend preferential credit terms for the country’s infrastructure plans,” Mr. Panelo said. — Arjay L. Balinbin