China urged the Philippines to ensure the safety of its citizens in the country on Sept 2, following the uncovering of a group that was planning to attack the Chinese embassy and Chinese-linked buildings.
Unless Manila takes effective measures, such cases－coming amid strained Beijing-Manila ties over the South China Sea－will further drive Chinese investors and visitors away from the Southeast Asian country, observers said.
On Sept 2, the Chinese embassy urged the Philippines to investigate the case and warned Chinese enterprises and students in the country to take precautions.
The consecutive attacks targeting buildings linked to China or the Chinese-Filipino business community were exposed after three men from the group were arrested over a foiled attempt to bomb the Philippine capital’s airport on Monday.
Philippine Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed that the men appeared to be particularly angry over the government’s perceived soft stance toward China.
But she added investigators were not convinced that the group’s real intention was to express anger against China and Chinese interests.
Li Guoqiang, an expert on border issues at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Philippine government should take some responsibility for such extreme moves as a slew of challenges by Manila to Chinese sovereignty over parts of the South China Sea have flared public nationalism.
“Manila may continue to hijack nationalism to push forward its so-called rights in the sea, but all its previous attempts, from taking China to international arbitration to illegally grounding a warship in Chinese territory, proved invalid,” Li said.
“The Philippines will only see a further decline in Chinese businessmen and tourists if it fails to protect their most basic need: life,” he said.
Johnson Cheng, president of Philippine Straits Travel Agency in Manila, said he looked forward to seeing both countries improve their relationship.
Cheng, a Chinese national, said he didn’t think Philippine people have many anti-China grievances, and such feelings were mostly stirred up by some politicians.