CHINESE AMBASSADOR to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua warned the Philippines against arbitrary deportations of Chinese nationals, and conveyed a warning that Beijing might retaliate, the president’s spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said.
Mr. Panelo said in a briefing Tuesday that Mr. Zhao told him over dinner that “if this government will just deport Chinese, not in accordance with the law, then we will also do the same. That’s tit for tat.”
Mr. Panelo also clarified that the government’s intent is to crack down on Chinese nationals who are working in the country without the required permits.
“The President wish to clarify that the immigration laws will be strictly enforced against anyone who violates it. He was actually referring to Chinese workers with working permits — they will be protected because they have been [given] the green light to work here. (All he is saying is that) if there are hundreds of Chinese immigrants perceived to be working illegally here, we cannot be so harsh and reckless to just deport them (because) the Chinese government may also react (because) there are 300,000 Filipinos (in China),” he said.
Asked to comment, Liu Yiqun, Second Secretary at the Chinese Embassy said via text message that the embassy will not be releasing a statement on the matter. “Now, no statement to be released. Thank you.”
Mr. Panelo said in a statement: “Chinese workers who have working permits and are compliant with immigration rules and do not violate the laws of the land will be accorded the protection they are entitled to.”
“The Government will tread cautiously and in accordance with the Constitution in dealing with any matter involving Chinese migrants perceived or alleged to be staying illegally, given the situation of thousands of Filipinos staying in China,” he added.
Mr. Duterte said in a speech at a campaign rally in Laguna on Feb. 23 that he would not order the deportation of Chinese nationals who are illegally working in the country, noting that at least 300,000 Filipinos work in China. — Arjay L. Balinbin