CHINA on Wednesday said it is willing to help the Philippines crack down on illegal online and offshore gambling outfits, according to the Chinese Embassy in Manila, citing joint operations that led to the repatriation of Chinese nationals.

“Crimes induced by online gambling harm not only China’s interests and China-Philippine relations but also the interests of the Philippines,” the embassy said in a statement on its website.

“China is willing to further cooperate ith the Philippines in dealing with such situations to nsure laws are enforced and justice served.”

The embassy said China had helped Manila shutter three illegal gambling zones that sent 400 Chinese citizens back to China this year.

It added that China would boost cooperation with the Philippine government and law enforcement agencies to “root out the social ills in a sweeping manner.”

Several senators have proposed to ban Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) — mostly Chinese gambling companies that operate online casinos from here using their own nationals — that they blamed for a spate of abductions victimizing mostly Chinese nationals.

More than 4,000 people have been victimized by crimes associated with POGOs in the first half, national police chief Benjamin C. Acorda told a Senate hearing on Oct. 4. This was higher than the 128 victims reported a year earlier.

In August, The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said it would start the privatization of 45 casinos by the third quarter of 2025, which is expected to generate between P60 billion and P80 billion in revenue.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said the move would make up for the losses the government would incur from shuttered POGO companies after it was reported that Pagcor had failed to collect P2.2 billion in unpaid dues from these operators.

Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla met with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian in September last year to discuss measures to deport Chinese nationals behind illegal gambling operations.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila said last year it would “stand ready to step up law enforcement cooperation with the Philippine side so as to protect the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens in the Philippines.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez