China denies Panelo statement on illegal Chinese workers
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – China on Thursday, February 28, denied a statement by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo that the Chinese government will deport Filipino workers if the Philippines will "recklessly" deport illegal Chinese workers.
"First, China adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs," the Chinese embassy in Manila said in a statement on Thursday.
"The Chinese embassy in the Philippines did not say that Beijing would adopt a 'tit-for-tat' approach should the Philippine government deport Chinese nationals found working illegally in the country," China said.
China issued this statement after Panelo on Tuesday, February 26, said China will adopt a "tit-for-tat" policy on illegal workers.
Panelo said Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua told him over dinner that if the Philippine government "will just deport Chinese not in accordance with the law," then China "will do the same." Panelo said, "That's tit for tat." (READ: Gov't income and jobs for Filipinos 'lost' to Chinese workers – Villanueva)
In its statement on Thursday, the Chinese embassy added that China's law enforcement agencies will deal with illegal workers in China "in accordance with law." At the same time, China said it respects Philippine laws on foreign workers. (READ: How China's online gambling addiction is reshaping Manila)
"China respects the laws and regulations of the Philippines regarding employment of foreign nationals in the country, and holds that Chinese nationals should not stay or work illegally in foreign countries including the Philippines," the Chinese embassy said.
The embassy also pointed out that China "has always requested Chinese nationals in the Philippines to observe the Philippine laws and regulations." (READ: Dela Rosa on Chinese workers: Kung illegal, dapat gawing legal)
Panelo made his controversial remarks after President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, February 23, said he was not keen on having illegal Chinese workers deported. Duterte explained that the number of Chinese workers in the Philippines "equals" the number of undocumented Filipino workers in China.
"'Yung mga Chinese dito, hayaan mo 'yan na dito magtrabaho. Hayaan mo. Bakit? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China kaya hindi ako makasabi, 'O, umalis kayo dito. Deport ka doon,'" Duterte said in his speech at a PDP-Laban event in Laguna.
(Allow the Chinese to work here. Let them be. Why? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China that's why I can't say, "Oh, leave this country. We'll have you deported.")
"Eh kung bigla paalisin 'yun doon, 300,000 of them?" Duterte added. (What if they deport 300,000 of them?) – Rappler.com