Philippine govt, opposition slam Chinese envoy for comments on Manila’s Taiwan policy

Camille Elemia
Philippine govt, opposition slam Chinese envoy for comments on Manila’s Taiwan policy Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian (second from right) and Department of Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco (center) greet visitors from China as they arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Jan. 24, 2023.
[Jam Sta Rosa/AFP]

The Philippine government and opposition have slammed the Chinese envoy for his statements on Manila’s policy on Taiwan and its workers on the neighboring island, saying they will not brook any attempts at intimidation by Beijing.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian last week criticized the Philippines granting the United States greater access to military bases fronting Taiwan, advising Manila to “unequivocally oppose” the island’s independence if it cared about the 150,000 Filipinos working there.

Opposition Philippine Sen. Risa Hontiveros asked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to call on Beijing to immediately recall its envoy for his “disgraceful statements,” which she called a threat to Filipinos working in Taiwan. 

“How dare he threaten us. The [Presidential] Palace should tell Beijing to recall their representative in Manila as soon as possible,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Sunday.

“He has no business being a diplomat if he is unable to engage with us in a respectful and dignified manner. He, along with his country’s ships and artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea, should pack up and leave,” she said, referring to the disputed South China Sea territory within Manila’s exclusive economic zone.

Akbayan, a local political party which counts Hontiveros as a member, said Huang’s remark was a “statement of a hostage taker” not an ambassador.

“We call on the Marcos administration to immediately declare the Chinese ambassador persona non grata and expel him from our country,” Akbayan said in a statement on Monday.

The Philippines is “an independent and sovereign country with the freedom to form alliances and partnerships with other nations,” Akbayan added.

Speaking on Friday at a forum hosted by a pro-Beijing local group, Huang said the Philippines may be “stoking the fire” by offering the U.S. access to military bases near the Taiwan Strait. 

Huang said China would not abandon the use of force against Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

DND takes exception’

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday said it was committed to the security of all Filipinos overseas.

“We assure the public that contingency plans are in place in all places where there are high numbers of OFWs,” it said in a statement using an acronym for Overseas Foreign Workers. 

The Department of National Defense issued a similar statement on Saturday where it criticized Huang for fueling alarm.

“The DND takes exception to the statement of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian that the Philippines is meddling in the internal affairs of China concerning Taiwan,” spokesman Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.

“We observe the One China Policy and subscribe to the ASEAN principle of non-interference in approaching regional issues. Our primordial concern in Taiwan is the safety and well-being of the more than 150,000 Filipinos living and working on the island and we take grave exception to any effort by guests in our country to use this to fear-monger and intimidate us.”

Andolong also said Huang was wrong to liken the Taiwan situation to the one in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, where the government had for years faced an insurgency.

“We wish to emphasize that the issues are different from each other,” he said. 

“The whole context and rich experience of our peace process in Mindanao, which allowed the participation of the international community … is aligned with the Philippines’ position of resolving disputes peacefully,” Andolong said.

On Sunday, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said Huang’s remarks were reported incorrectly despite the media citing quotes from a copy of the speech provided by the embassy.

“Unfortunately some misquoted or misinterpreted Ambassador Huang’s remarks or simply took part of the ambassador’s words out of context,” the embassy said in a statement on its Facebook page on Sunday.

Marcos has yet to weigh in on Huang’s speech.


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