China warns Manila of online gambling crackdown

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China has issued a strongly worded statement calling on Manila to protect its citizens working in the country and warned that all forms of gambling involving Chinese gamblers, or targeting the mainland are illegal and will be stamped out. 

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines posted the statement on its web site after Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp vice president Jose Tria said the Chinese working for POGOs would be transferred to “self contained” communities, or hubs. 

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines expressed grave concern for Chinese working for Philippine offshore gaming operators and urged the Philippine government to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.  

The embassy urged the Philippine government to take effective measures to prevent and punish the Philippine casinos, POGOs and other forms of gambling entities for their illegal employment of Chinese citizens and asked the Philippine government to crack down on related crimes that hurt the Chinese citizens,” the statement said. 

The statement went on to say that the proliferation of POGOs employing Chinese was posing a threat to China’s financial security and supervision. It said that a conservative estimate shows hundreds of millions of yuan are flowing illegally out of the country every year through underground banks and funds are being laundered cross border.

It also warned illegal online gambling operations are causing social unrest at home, with gambling crimes and telecoms fraud closely related.  

It also expressed concern about the thousands of Chinese working illegally for POGOs in conditions described by the media as “modern slavery.” 

“Their passports are taken away or confiscated by the Philippine employers. They are confined to live and work in certain designated places and some of them have been subjected to extortion, physical abuse and torture as well as other ill-treatments,” it said.

“At the same time, dozens of kidnappings and tortured cases of Chinese citizens who gamble or work illegally in gambling entities in the Philippines have taken place. Some Chinese citizens were physically tortured, injured or even murdered.”

Beijing said it planned to step up action to stamp out illegal gambling, but also warned its citizens that if they are gambling overseas they may be committing a criminal act. 

“The Judicial Interpretation of the Relevant Laws on the Application of Online-gambling Crimes jointly issued by China’s Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate clearly stipulates that Chinese citizens gambling overseas, opening casinos to attract Chinese citizens as primary customers may constitute gambling crimes.”

The embassy also called on Manila to step up enforcement and to cooperate with Beijing to stop illegal gambling.