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China pursues crackdown on POGO workers, identifies violators

China said Sunday that it has obtained a list of Chinese nationals working for online gaming operations in the Philippines, in an ongoing effort to curb gambling and entities defrauding the country.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila made the announcement amid reports that China has canceled the passports of its nationals who are working for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO), and fraudulent operations.

"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, who are classified as the persons prohibited from exiting China according to the Exit-Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China," a Chinese Embassy statement said.

"Such operations are aimed at the suspects of Chinese nationals who have committed telecommunications fraud crimes in different countries."

It did not specifically say if it has canceled the passports of suspected Chinese online gaming and telecommunications fraud workers on its list.

China's latest action indicates its concern on the continuous operations of hundreds of internet gaming and fraud sites in the Philippines and the illegal recruitment of Chinese nationals who are hired to operate them in Manila.

Since 2016, a large number of Chinese citizens have been hired for POGO.

In most cases, Chinese online gambling operators in the Philippines do not apply necessary legal work permits for their Chinese employees or allegedly pay bribes to Philippine Immigration officers.

"The Chinese government always requires Chinese citizens overseas to abide by local laws and regulations and not to work illegally in foreign countries," the embassy said.

Despite repeated appeals from China to the Philippine government to close down POGO operations, online Chinese gambling and fraud networks continue to flourish.

China said offshore gambling has resulted in cross-border crimes, such as money laundering, which undermines China's financial supervision and financial security.

"The Chinese embassy in the Philippines has repeatedly issued consular reminders and has been keeping close communications with the Philippine government in this regard. The relevant departments of both countries also conducted a series of law enforcement cooperation," the embassy said.

Chinese officials in Manila said they will work closely with the Philippines "to combat such crimes as telecommunications  fraud, illegal online-gambling, money-laundering, illegal employment, kidnapping, extortion, torture, murder etc so as to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of nationals of the two countries, and to promote the China-Philippines friendship and cooperation."

Any form of gambling by Chinese citizens, including online-gambling, gambling overseas, opening and operating casinos overseas to attract citizens of China as primary customers, is illegal, the embassy pointed out. —LBG, GMA News