West Philippine Sea

Año wants expulsion of Chinese diplomats over ‘malign influence and interference operations’ 

Bea Cupin

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Año wants expulsion of Chinese diplomats over ‘malign influence and interference operations’ 

EDUARDO ANO. File photo shows National Security Adviser Eduardo Año.


(1st UPDATE) The Philippines’ National Security Adviser calls on the DFA to 'take appropriate action' after diplomats from the Chinese embassy release a supposed recording of a phone call with a Philippine military general

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ National Security Adviser on Friday, May 10, called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to “take appropriate actions against individuals in the Chinese Embassy” who have claimed to possess an audio recording of an alleged phone call with a Philippine military general. 

“Those individuals in the Chinese Embassy responsible for violating Philippine laws and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and those responsible for these malign influence and interference operations must be removed from the country immediately,” Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement. 

“The Chinese Embassy’s repeated acts of engaging in and dissemination of disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation – now releasing spurious transcripts or recordings of purported conversations between officials of the host country – should not be allowed to pass unsanctioned or without serious penalty,” added Año. 

On Thursday, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs reminded diplomats that they should “strictly adhere” to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, particularly on respecting the laws of their host governments. In the same statement, it cited the “new model” claim of China and cautioned “against falling for false narratives.”

Año wants more than a reminder to come from the DFA. 

“We emphasize that the unmistakable objective of the PRC embassy in its indiscriminate releasing of these falsehoods and smears have been, and continues to be, to sow discord, division, and disunity between and among the Filipino people. Without a doubt, these are serious breaches of the basic norms of international relations and diplomacy by the embassy,” he said. 

“Bypassing official and long established channels and protocols, talking to officials without the requisite authorities or bona fides, then maliciously claiming that alleged discussions should bind the PH government is farcical, foolish, and reckless,” Año added.

The Chinese embassy in Manila had released through two Philippine-based publications a supposed two-minute clip from a 12-minute recording of an alleged phone call between Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos and a “Chinese diplomat.” China purports that this is proof that the Philippines, through Carlos, agreed to a so-called “new model” to handle tensions in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. 

In a May 4 statement, the DFA said it was not aware of any “new model” arrangement, and that these deals could only be authorized at “the highest level of government.” Days later, on May 7, the DFA said only President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., could enter into any such deal and that “no cabinet-level official” has agreed to Chinese proposals on Ayungin Shoal. 

At the center of the diplomatic tiff between the two countries in the BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II warship that had been intentionally run aground on Ayungin Shoal since 1999. 

China claims Ayungin Shoal, even if the feature lies well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. China does not recognize a 2016 Arbitral Award that invalidated its sweeping claim of the South China Sea.

Military rotation and resupply missions to the Sierra Madre – all carried out by the Wescom under Carlos – have turned more and more dangerous in the past year. Carlos himself was on board Navy-contracted ships when the China Coast Guard harassed and brought out its water cannons to stop the mission in December 2023 and March 2024. 

Earlier, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. urged the DFA to investigate what happened and to determine if Chinese diplomats violated the Philippines’ Anti-Wiretapping Act. 

“We need to find out who is responsible for this and remove them from the country,” said Teodoro on May 8.  

No Philippine official has acknowledged the authenticity of the supposed recording. Carlos, who has commanded Wescom since January 2022, is on personal leave and has not responded to media queries.

Meanwhile, a report from Reuters said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian called the comments provocative and said Chinese diplomats in the Philippines had to be allowed to do their job.

“China solemnly requests the Philippine side to effectively safeguard the normal performance of duties by Chinese diplomatic personnel, stop infringing and provoking, and refrain from denying the facts,” Lin said at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

On Wednesday, Chinese spokesperson Lin said the embassy in Manila had released details about “relevant communications” between the two countries on managing the situation at the Second Thomas Shoal.

Lin, in comments shared by the embassy, did not elaborate on what details or communications were released, or when, but said “facts are clear and backed by hard evidence that cannot be denied.”

“The Philippines has insisted on denying these objective facts and seeks to mislead the international community,” Lin added.

Philippine officials had consistently categorically denied the claims made by China.

with reports from Reuters/Rappler.com 

1 comment

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  1. ET

    So what? After expelling those Chinese diplomats, will their replacement not do the same thing?

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.