China has revoked thousands of its citizens’ passports on grounds that they violated laws by traveling to work in the Philippines’ online gaming industry.
China is fed up with Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) targeting its people with online gaming. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens have immigrated to the Philippines to work in the industry.
Now, those who have fled to the Philippines with hopes of better wages won’t be welcomed to return home. The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines confirmed the revocation of thousands of passports.
In order to crack down on cross-border telecommunication fraud crimes, the Ministry of Public Security of China has obtained a list of Chinese nationals suspected of committing long-term telecommunication fraud crimes abroad,” the embassy stated. “Such operations are aimed at the suspects of Chinese nationals who have committed telecommunications fraud crimes in different countries.”
Filipinos cannot access the online gaming sites operated by the POGO companies. Instead, the interactive platforms target foreign customers, specifically Chinese nationals who are not legally allowed to gamble.
According to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, there are currently 60 licensed offshore gaming operators. The state regulatory agency has halted issuing new POGO permits at Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate.
People’s Republic President Xi Jinping and Duterte met last fall to discuss China’s wishes that POGO businesses be stopped. Duterte refused, later saying that POGOs would be allowed to continue their operations, as they provide too great of an economic and tax incentive to the Philippines.
In what was considered a bit of a concession, Duterte said earlier this year that visa entries into the country from China would be limited to 30 days – a reduction from three months. Duterte revealed he had confirmation from China that the country would stay out of POGO affairs.
“If there is a need to deport, arrest, then they’re keeping their hands away from all these things. We have the prerogative to do what we want to enforce the law. In fairness to Chinese government, they understand,” Rodrigo declared.
The new visa rules imposed by Duterte have done little to slow Chinese people from making their way into the Philippines. It was revealed this week in the Filipino Senate that a scheme was uncovered that involved immigration officials being paid off.
For 10,000 pesos ($200), Chinese nationals were let in “at once, no questions asked.” The Philippines government said many of those who entered in this manner were convicted criminals on a banned list.
As a result of the bribery scheme, Duterte’s administration announced 19 immigration employees had been fired.
“POGOs bring with them syndicates and criminals,” said Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. “Criminality cannot be separated from these POGOS. They’re directly correlated to the rise in crimes where they operate.”
POGOs have been blamed for increased prostitution, kidnapping, murder, and corruption.