MANILA, Philippines – Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua warned presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo that China would deport Filipino workers from its territories if the Philippines would illegally expel Chinese workers in the country.
Panelo, the concurrent chief presidential legal counsel, so disclosed amid fears that thousands of Chinese workers had been taking job opportunities from Filipinos.
“‘If this government will just deport Chinese not in accordance with law, then we will also do the same’,” Panelo quoted Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua’s as saying in a news briefing.
“That’s what he said. Of course, he added, ‘I know the Philippine government will not do that,'” President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said he could not simply deport Chinese workers in the country as the move may result in a massive lay-off of Filipinos working in China.
According to the 2017 data of the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are 397,166 Filipinos in the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
“‘Yung mga Chinese dito, hayaan mo ‘yan na dito magtrabaho, hayaan mo. Bakit? We have 300,000 Filipinos in China,” the president said in a speech during a campaign rally of his political party PDP-Laban in Biñan City, Laguna.
“Kaya hindi ako maka-sabing, ‘o umalis kayo dito, i-deport ka doon.’ Eh kung biglang paalisin yon doon 300 [thousand] of them, just like in the Middle East?” he added.
Duterte had earlier called for a “careful” approach in addressing the issue of illegal Chinese workers.
“If you think that you are at a loss, at the disadvantage because there are so many Chinese nationals who are working here, remember that we have seen equal amount of people [Filipinos] who are there working in China,” he said.
“But wala naman silang idineport. So maybe you can just tell them to go home,” Duterte added.