The Philippines Not on China’s Tourist Blacklist

Posted by DG, Date posted at October 12, 2022

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Manila, The Chinese Embassy, wishes to clarify what has been announced as official news on Tuesday, October 11th — that the Chinese Embassy included the Philippines as part of China’s Tourist Blacklist. The situation is a definitive example of communication getting lost in translation. 

They have made it clear in a later statement published on the Chinese embassy’s official site released early morning on Wednesday, October 12, 2022, that this is misinformation largely coming from an announcement that was not available in the English language at that time.

What led to the confusion

There was a previous statement published on Tuesday on the Chinese embassy’s website, regarding “POGO-related issues”– as a reference to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators –, that discussed concern about Philippine-based POGOs targeting Chinese customers. Unfortunately, this did not clearly address if the Philippines had been blacklisted by China.

Details to the statement mentioned, “according to Chinese law and regulations, Chinese citizens gambling overseas, opening casinos to attract Chinese citizens as primary customers constitute gambling crimes.” Thereby, in such situations, “criminal liability can be pursued in accordance with the provisions of the criminal law of China”. The article concluded, “The Chinese government and law enforcement have been taking tough measures to combat all forms of gambling”.

Coming from this, the president of the Philippine Senate, Juan Miguel Zubiri, said on Tuesday that China had placed the Philippines on its tourism blacklist. His comments were made during a Senate inquiry into POGO-related matters. To quote, “Ambassador Huang [Xilian] said that the Philippines now is part of a blacklist of tourist sites because they [the Chinese authorities] do not know if the tourists going there will be joining POGO operations,” He drew this declaration coming from what was expressed to him the Chinese ambassador during a Manila gathering on Monday.

Image source: Rappler
Fortunately, during the latter part of Tuesday, Mr Zubiri posted on social media to clarify that  Ambassador Huang’s comments had been “lost in translation”. “What the good ambassador meant was we could be possibly blacklisted as he mentioned they do that to countries who promote gambling for their countrymen,” the president of the Philippine Senate added.

Further clarification expressed by the Chinese Embassy

By late Tuesday, the Chinese embassy in Manila says the Philippines has not been blacklisted as a tourism destination by China. This action was taken immediately after the ambassador was informed by a top official that there was news that China had blacklisted the Philippines.

The Chinese embassy declared “The report of ‘tourist blacklist’ is misinformation”, sent to all available Philippine news media. However, the announcement was not available on the English-language version of the embassy’s website as of early morning on Wednesday. The information that reached local media was only, “China has not placed the Philippines on its blacklist for tourism”. 

Blacklisting countries that seek to target Chinese nationals to participate in either land-based or online gambling has been practiced by China since 2020. They have also relayed concerns about POGOs earlier on.

China’s Strong Opposition to illegal POGOs

China has been making it clear to everyone with official statements, interviews and actions since 2019 that they are on the same page with the Philippine government when it comes to addressing illegal POGOs. They are aware that the entities running underground have also targetted mostly Chinese customers and engaged them to participate in what China considers domestically a criminal activity. 

Tuesday’s statement that was made available on the Chinese embassy’s website said that “most of the recent crimes targeted at Chinese citizens in the Philippines are related to POGOs”. Furthermore,  “The Chinese embassy has been in close communication with the Philippine law enforcement agencies and stepped up cooperation on cracking down POGO-related criminal activities against Chinese citizens in the Philippines.”

Said document also stated that “It is appreciated that relevant Philippine law enforcement agencies rescued a number of Chinese citizens and shut down some POGO companies during their operations.”

To further clarify the confusion, in the comments posted online, the Chinese embassy also noted the meeting between Ambassador Huang and Mr Zubiri. “Ambassador Huang reiterated China’s policy on and firm opposition to POGO,” the statement said, “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 the 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 Latest Statistics on how illegal POGO is being addressed

There has been news of rampant criminality concerning illegal POGOs. Philippine authorities have stepped up efforts to prevent all manner of illegal online gaming activities nationwide. News media has covered how reports of murder, kidnapping and other crimes triggered this crackdown on illegal POGO. Parties most affected by these events are mostly Chinese nationals and most of the victims themselves are also Chinese citizens.

There is a substantial number on how many Chinese nationals have been affected by the sweeping crackdown on POGOs. As of late September, statistics show that around 40,000 Chinese nationals have had their job permits canceled due to the clampdown on illegal POGOs.

All points considered, the importance of clear and effective communication must prevail between all parties. I would have the legal POGOs remain operating for they can also be considered as one of the main arteries generating income for both countries as well as providing a means of livelihood for its citizens as well. Regulation should balance things out and not needlessly eliminate a good business venture. Feel free to comment below on what your vantage points are, dear readers. We welcome your feedback on this topic that impacts our games.

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