China cancels citizens' passports in illegal gambling crackdown

24 February 2020

The Chinese government has confirmed that it cancelled the passports of its citizens working for online gambling businesses in the Philippines, as part of its ongoing effort to clamp down on illegal offshore activity.

The government cancelled passports for a number of China-based individuals suspected of committing telecommunication cyberfraud criminal activities abroad by working with Philippines-based operators, after public security authorities obtained a list of the companies' Chinese employees. These individuals, as a result of their suspected involvement in crime, will now be unable to leave the country.

"The Chinese government has always required Chinese citizens abroad to abide by local laws and regulations and not allow illegal employment abroad,” the government explained. “The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines has issued consular reminders on this occasion.

“China and the Philippines have maintained close communication on relevant issues, and departments of the two countries have also launched a series of law enforcement and security cooperation.

“China is willing to work closely with the Philippines to jointly combat criminal activities such as telecommunications network fraud, illegal online gambling, money laundering, illegal employment, abduction, extortion, injury and murder, and effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of the two peoples, and jointly safeguard China-Philippine friendship cooperation.”

Last month, the Chinese government announced plans to expand and widen its efforts to combat illegal, cross-border online gambling in the country. State Councillor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi will lead the project, as per plans set out by Sun Lijun, deputy minister within the Ministry of Public Security.

Sun said the Ministry would promote inter-departmental cooperation to organise and plan initiatives to tackle illegal activities, including efforts to promote the country's Sports and Welfare Lotteries as the only legal form of gambling in the country.

This declaration came after China last year ramped up pressure on neighbouring countries to target on online operators, which contributed to Cambodia shutting down its igaming industry.

However, while the Philippines' offshore gaming industry was also targeted, the country's President Rodrigo Duterte has so far proved resistant to China's calls.