China has assured the Philippines that it will not interfere with the country’s offshore gaming industry despite having last year called for all Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) to be shut down.
According to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian issued the assurance during a recent meeting between the two in which he also stated that he “understands” how the local law enforcement system works and the fact that some Chinese nationals illegally working for POGOs may need to be deported.
“The ambassador said that if you must do it, because the law is the law … that if there is a need to deport, arrest, then they’re keeping their hands away from all these things,” Duterte said in an interview with ABS-CBN.
“In fairness to the Chinese government, they understand.”
The President did, however, reveal that the Ambassador had warned against introducing too much gambling into the country, and subsequently too many Chinese workers, noting that some had been “lured into and cheated to work illegally with only tourist visas.”
“If you add more to this number presently operating, you will not be able to police them all,” Duterte said in reference to Huang’s comments.
“So you have to set a number for that. It cannot be in every town and city about so many POGO games going on.”
The Chinese Embassy applied pressure on the Philippines in August when it issued a statement expressing its concerns over the proposed transfer of Chinese workers within the POGO industry to self-contained hubs and warning against the illegal inducement of Chinese citizens to gamble either online or in Philippines land-based casinos.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang went one step further soon after, stating, “We hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling” and describing online gambling as “the most dangerous tumor in modern society detested by people all across the world.”
However, Duterte ultimately rejected China’s calls to ban online gambling operations due to the financial impact on the nation being too great.