Posted on: September 15, 2023, 06:53h.
Last updated on: September 15, 2023, 06:53h.
Chinese authorities have arrested a number of students for their involvement in promoting gambling in the Philippines. At least two of the students now face imprisonment, but they claim that someone from the school arranged their participation.
In 2021, law enforcement apprehended several individuals linked to the Changde Cruise Attendants Vocational School in Xinyang in China’s Henan province. They were charged with promoting a cross-border gambling enterprise, but were released on bail until their court appearance.
This week, a Henan court sentenced two of the students to a minimum of eight months, possibly up to a year, in prison. They were found guilty of advertising gambling activities at unidentified Philippine casinos.
Innocent Doesn’t Mean Not Guilty
The students state that their school proposed the idea of working for a Filipino company to promote its video games. They were given an assignment to identify potential buyers for recreational equipment, unaware that they were actually promoting an illegal gambling operation.
These sentences are the latest in a series of cases involving students from the school who traveled to the Philippines for the program. In March, a Xinyang court issued a similar 8-month sentence, which was suspended for a year.
The student involved in that case was also charged with enticing individuals to participate in casino gambling. Investigations revealed that the student had been employed by a Manila gambling website from 2018 to 2020 and received payment of about CNY160,000 (US$22,000).
In August, another student was found guilty of the same offense. However, their sentence of one year in prison was suspended for two years.
The school’s principal, Deng Guangzhou, claims to have had no knowledge of the program’s illegal nature. He states that a firm in Shenzhen in the Guangdong province organized the program, and he believed it to be a legitimate work opportunity.
While the students had to pay their own tuition fees and travel visa expenses, around CNY10,500 (US$1,442), the extent of the school’s involvement was limited. The students, however, have testified that they had to pay the school CNY10,000 (US$1,374) to participate in the program.
The students’ lawyers are currently working on an appeal.
China Keeps Anti-Gambling Pressure on SE Asia
This case negatively impacts both the Philippines and China. The Philippines has been dealing with several incidents involving illegal gambling and human trafficking, and this situation further exacerbates the issue.
China has long maintained an anti-gambling policy and has been urging countries in Southeast Asia to adopt a similar stance or at least prevent its citizens from participating in cross-border gambling.
The Philippines has expressed willingness to cooperate with China in addressing concerns regarding illegal gambling and human trafficking. However, it is not prepared to do more than that.
Other countries in the region, such as Malaysia, Myanmar, and Cambodia, have taken steps to strengthen their anti-gambling measures and support China’s efforts to control its citizens.
Vietnam, for example, is reportedly working closely with China. The two countries recently signed a memorandum of understanding on political security and financial flows. The agreement could lead to Vietnam reporting or freezing money transfers and sharing personal information of those involved with Chinese authorities.