China’s government is praising efforts by Cambodia and the Philippines to minimize the effect their domestic online gambling operations have on Chinese citizens.
On Tuesday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang’s regular press conference featured several questions regarding Cambodia’s recent announcement that it would end its online gambling licensing program as well as the Philippines announcing a pause in issuing new online gambling licenses.
Geng (pictured) said China “highly appreciates Cambodia’s decision to ban online gambling,” based on the Ministry’s belief that it “will help protect both Cambodian and Chinese people’s interests” and well as strengthen the two countries’ “law enforcement cooperation and friendly relations.”
Geng was then asked for comment on the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) announcing this week that it was putting a freeze on issuing any new Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) licenses. Geng said China had “taken note” of this news and “appreciates it.”
However, Geng added that China hopes the Philippines “will go further and ban all online gambling,” a step he claimed would “help create an enabling environment for the development of bilateral relations and peace and stability in the region.”
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to travel to Beijing on August 28 for meetings with China’s President Xi Jinping. The Philippine government has stated that online gambling, as well as the safety of Chinese nationals working in the Philippine gaming industry, will be among the topics up for discussion when the two leaders meet.
Geng also offered insights into China’s view that online gambling is “a most dangerous tumor in modern society detested by people all across the world.” Geng added that it was a “shared hope” among nations that the online gambling problem “could be effectively dealt with.”
China’s government may view online gambling as a tumor, but Chinese gamblers continue to do whatever they can to develop cancer. Tuesday saw China’s state-run Xinhua media outlet report on the arrest of 41 suspects in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region for running an illegal “cross-border” online gambling operation that catered to customers in China’s major southern provinces.
China has been stepping up its anti-online gambling rhetoric in recent months, including a state-run media attack on junket operator Suncity Group’s Philippine-based online gambling business, which the company has since shut. That media report followed the Ministry of Public Security’s vow to “bust a series of major criminal cases” related to China-facing online gambling operations.