Philippine Armed Forces to Investigate ‘Creeping Invasion’ of Chinese Students in Province Close to Taiwan

Philippine lawmakers have raised concerns about the influx of Chinese students in Cagayan Province, describing it as a “creeping invasion,” and have prompted the Philippine armed forces to investigate the issue.

Cagayan is located at the northern tip of Luzon island, facing Taiwan.

The Philippines Star reported on April 17 that over 4,600 Chinese nationals have enrolled in a local university and leased residences in different parts of Tuguegarao City.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Col. Francel Margareth Padilla, said that the military will work with the Philippine National Police (PNP) on the matter.

“The AFP takes this seriously, so we are looking into this, but in terms of peace and order issues, that is the mandate of the PNP,” said Col. Padilla at a press briefing on April 16.

“We’ll be working with them closely on this matter, so investigations will be on their end, and if there will be AFP requirements from their end, then we will be extending our assistance accordingly,” she added.

Filipino Congressman Robert Ace Barbers said at a press briefing on April 16 that the influx of Chinese workers, businessmen, tourists, and students in the Philippines is alarming, declaring that the “creeping invasion has begun.”

Mr. Barbers expressed concern about reports of Chinese nationals’ “unexplainable and inexplicable presence” in the country.

“How can they, in large numbers, not arouse suspicion to any agency unless the people responsible have been blinded by money or are grossly incompetent and ignorant?” he said.The intensifying sovereignty disputes between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Philippines in the South China Sea have compelled Manila to strengthen its alliance with Washington.

Under the U.S. Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), the number of EDCA sites increased from five to nine last year, two of which are in Cagayan: Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana town and Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo municipality.

Strategically, Cagayan is of geopolitical importance amid the current security complex of the Taiwan Strait.

Security experts warned that the close proximity of Chinese students to one of the EDCA sites could present a national security risk, particularly amid the escalating tensions in the West Philippine Sea triggered by the Chinese regime’s encroachments, reported The Manila Times.

To delve into the Chinese presence in Cagayan, which is deemed a crucial area within the country’s archipelagic domain, Cagayan’s Third District Rep. Joseph “Jojo” L. Lara collaborated with the National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency to investigate what was regarded as a national security issue.

In a resolution filed on March 20, Mr. Lara and Faustino Dy V of Isabela’s Sixth District noted “an alarming increase in the number of Chinese citizens coming into the province of Cagayan as students enrolled in universities.”

They said that it posed a threat to the nation’s national security and economy, mainly due to the involvement of these foreigners in “spurious schemes,” according to a report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

In response to the media reports, Beijing said on April 18 that Manila’s concerns are “unfounded.” On the website of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines, Mr. Lara’s concerns over the “security threat” to the “strategic geographical location” of Cagayan were referred to as a “political agenda and self-interest” of individual politicians to “undermine China-Philippines cooperation.”

Philippine security analyst Chester Cabalza is also concerned with the influx of Chinese nationals in Cagayan, given the province’s geopolitical importance in relation to Taiwan.

Mr. Cabalza told the SCMP that the new Chinese arrivals are “rich students and businessmen,” and their presence is “dubious since they came to the province amid the geopolitical tension in the Taiwan Strait and the rotational presence of American soldiers in Northern Luzon.”

Zhang Ting contributed to this report.


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