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Gabriela: Chinese ambassador ‘crossed the line’ with Taiwan OFWs remark

Gabriela Women’s Party on Tuesday slammed Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian's remarks about overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Taiwan, saying that he has “crossed the line.”

Last week, Huang said China "advises" the Philippines to oppose Taiwan independence instead of offering the US access to its military facilities near the Taiwan Strait.

This, Huang said, if the Philippines cared for the 150,000 OFWs in Taiwan.

“Chinese Ambassador Huang is sending a veiled threat to our OFWs in Taiwan to pressure the Philippines to abide by the ‘One China’ principle. He clearly crossed the line, and Malacañang should recommend that he must be immediately recalled,” House Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas said in a statement.

“Ambassador Huang could have an entire day opposing Taiwan’s independence. But to tell Manila to ‘unequivocally oppose’ such assertion of independence and dangle the fate of our OFWs—that is simply unacceptable,” she added. 

Brosas said while Filipinos “must oppose” the designation of new shared locations under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), this does not mean that the aggressive acts of Beijing in the West Philippine Sea will be tolerated.

“From the building of artificial islands in the contested waters to the harassment of our fishermen and laser-tagging of our Coast Guard, China has done so much to cause unrest and concern in the peace and security in the West Philippine Sea. It has no ascendancy to lecture us on ensuring regional stability and de-escalating the tension in the contested territories,” she said.

China's embassy in the Philippines earlier said the ambassador’s remarks were misquoted, misunderstood, or taken out of context.

At the event last Friday, Huang said that the "Taiwan question" is "entirely China's affair," but that the United States wants to "interfere" in the situation and take advantage of the inclusion of four more military sites in the Philippines in the implementation of the EDCA.

The Department of National Defense also "took exception" to Huang's saying that the Philippines is "stoking the fire" with EDCA, while National Security Council spokesperson Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya clarified that “the Philippines has no intention of interfering in the Taiwan issue and will not allow itself to be used by other countries to interfere in the said issue.”

Senator Risa Hontiveros has also said that Huang should be recalled by Beijing for his remarks.

China views the democratic, self-ruled island as its own territory and has vowed to take it back, by force if necessary.

Last week, after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen met with US Speaker Kevin McCarthy, China launched three days of military exercises around Taiwan in which it practiced encircling it and sealing it off. — Richa Noriega/BM, GMA Integrated News