South China Sea: Philippines launch stunning attack on Beijing after accusing it of spying



THE PHILIPPINES defence secretary has found himself in a bizarre war of words with Beijing in which both sides suggested foreign workers in their nations were spies. as tensions over the South China Sea continue to grow.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had called for online casinos operating near Philippine military camps to be relocated due to fears they may be used as spies by Beijing. When Beijing’s ambassador in Manila Zhao Jianhua suggested Philippine workers in China could do the same, Mr Lorenzana rejected the statement. According to South China Morning Post, he explained: “That’s the most preposterous statement I’ve heard in a long while.

“There are no POGO-like (Philippines offshore gaming operations) centres in China that can be operated purely by Filipinos near Chinese military camps.”

A majority of the 138,000 POGO workers in The Philippines are Chinese and businesses mainly cater to the Chinese market.

Gambling is illegal in Mainland China as the Government does not consider two state run lotteries as gambling.

In the special administrative region of Hong Kong, gambling involving a bookmaker is illegal and thus only the monopoly granted by the city government to Hong Kong Jockey Club allows the institution to offer odds on house racing on Wednesday and Sundays, lotteries and overseas football matches.

The other special administrative region of Macau is the largest gambling hub in the world, with Portugal’s colonial Government legalising it in the 1850s.

72 percent of tourists into Macau come from the mainland.

Mr Lorenzana on Sunday said: “Knowing that Chinese companies are mandated by the Chinese government to assist in intel collection for their government, it is not far-fetched that individuals, likewise, could be compelled to do so.”

After the counterclaim from Mr Zhao, he added: “It could be just coincidental these were the only facilities offered for POGO operations. I believe that the POGO workers are here just for work only.

“What I am alarmed about is the potential that they could be tapped for info-gathering purposes.

“That is why I support the relocation of the centres to economic zones that are not proximate to military camps.”

Around 1.3 percent of people from the Philippines have Chinese ancestry.

There around 140,000 Philippine citizens in Hong Kong, many of whom are domestic workers and a further 12,000 in the mainland.