Chinese envoy calling tourist blacklist ‘misinformation’ shocks Zubiri

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri on Wednesday said he was surprised by the “turnaround” in Chinese Ambassador Huang Xillian’s statement on alleged China’s blacklisting of the Philippines as a tourist destination.

In an interview, Zubiri stood by his earlier statement that the Philippines now is part of China’s blacklist of tourist sites due to the danger posed by the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators.

“The fault lies with the Ambassador, he mentioned blacklisting. Maybe the Ambassador made a wrong statement but we stood by our statement that the Ambassador mentioned the word ‘blacklisting’ several times,” he said.

“I was shocked by the turnaround. I was shocked by the statement of the Embassy and it’s regrettable because we have several witnesses,” he added.

Huang released a statement denouncing Zubiri’s announcement, shortly after the lawmaker announced the resumption of the Senate hearing on POGO that China placed the Philippines under its blacklist due to continued operations of offshore gaming in the country.

The Chinese Embassy also called the alleged blacklisting “misinformation”.

“The report of ‘tourist blacklist’ is misinformation. China has not placed the Philippines on its blacklist for tourism,” the Embassy said.

Zubiri said the Embassy should have issued a clarification instead of claiming it was “misinformation”.

“I think it should’ve just been a clarification… The way it looks like I was spreading the wrong information. It was not fake news,” he said.

Despite being “lost in translation,” the Senate chief said that an apology will not be necessary on the part of the Embassy.

“Apology not needed… No need, it is okay, it is up to them. I’m happy with my clarification,” he said.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Zubiri disclosed that the news came from Huang.

“Ambassador Huang said that the Philippines now is part of a blacklist of tourist sites because they do not know if a tourist will be joining POGO operations and they don’t know if their nationals who go to the Philippines will be safe from illegal activities being done by the triad, by the syndicates operating POGOs,” he said.

“They may be kidnapped, mistaken for POGO operators. That’s the reason why there’s been a significant drop in Chinese tourists. By the way, they are the largest number of tourists pre-pandemic,” he added.

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