File photo by AFP
MANILA, Philippines – While caught in a territorial dispute that has strained ties between the two countries, China urged the Philippines to immediately “resolve” the case of 78 Chinese nationals whom Manila detained in an immigration crackdown.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday, December 12, that China has verified reports the Philippines detained 78 of their citizens for alleged overstaying.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese embassy in the Philippines will continue to follow the development of this case. We urge the Philippine side to properly resolve it as soon as possible,” Hong said.
He added China has instructed its embassy in the Philippines “to launch an emergency mechanism.” He also said their embassy “lodged representations with the Philippine Immigration Office.”
Hong noted that the Philippines has released 3 of them “given their poor health,” while the host country moved the rest “to another detention site with better conditions.”
“The Philippines said that this operation targeted all overstayers in the Philippines, not just Chinese, and that there were many citizens of other countries arrested in this operation,” Hong said.
'Mocking' PH laws
In a report on the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA), Bureau of Immigration (BI) officer-in-charge Siegfred Mison said the BI nabbed 80 foreigners at the 168 Mall in Divisoria, Manila following a mission order Tuesday, December 10.
The PNA report said these foreigners, who had been working without permits, “have been mocking the laws of this country for quite a time.”
“The operations in 168 Mall has been planned a long time ago, approved and covered by a mission order,” Mison said.
“We are determined to put those who violate our laws in their proper places. This operation has been deliberately planned and officially approved. We do this as a service to the Filipino people and against those illegals who deprive our fellow Filipinos the opportunity to work and do business in our country," Mison added.
Mison urged foreigners working in the Philippines to get the required permits in the BI headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.
The Chinese nationals' detention comes in the middle of a dispute between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Philippines has filed an unprecedented case against China before a United Nations tribunal. China, on the other hand, has rejected the arbitral proceedings, insisting on bilateral talks instead. (READ: PH lawyer on China: Being 'int'l outlaw' has its price.) – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.