Taiwan rejects Philippine official’s claim that Taiwan is part of China

MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou / CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan on Wednesday rejected a Philippine official’s remarks that it is part of China, and Beijing therefore can help decide whether a Filipina caregiver in Taiwan should be deported to Manila, after she allegedly criticized the Philippine president.

“China has never ruled Taiwan for one day, and only the popularly elected Taiwan government can represent the country’s 23 million people internationally,” MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement Wednesday.

She said Taiwan’s representative office in Manila has been instructed to file a formal protest over the statement by Philippine Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

According to a report on ABS-CBN News in the Philippines, Roque said the decision on whether the caregiver should be deported rests with Taipei and Beijing.

“We leave that wholly to Taiwan and China. Taiwan is part of China,” Roque said in the news report, commenting on an effort by the Philippine labor department to have the Filipina sent back to Manila.

The department said the caregiver has been posting “nasty and malevolent materials” on social media in criticism of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak there.

However, Ou said Wednesday that migrant workers in Taiwan enjoy the same freedom of expression as Taiwanese citizens, and if the Philippine government wants the caregiver deported, it can file a request via the proper diplomatic channels for judicial cooperation.

Meanwhile, Angelito Banayo, chairman and resident representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei, told the media earlier in the day that he had not received any instructions from Manila to arrange for the caregiver’s deportation.

He also apologized for the wording of the controversial statement by the Philippine labor department, saying deportation is the sovereign privilege of the host country.

The controversy over the Filipina caregiver followed another spat in February, when Philippines Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said “Taiwan is part of China,” as he announced the inclusion of Taiwan in a ban on arrivals from China as part of the effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

In response, MOFA asked for a retraction and said Taiwan would not rule out the possibility of taking “corresponding measures” against the Philippines if the ban was not lifted. Salvador Panelo, then Philippine Presidential spokesman, later said the travel ban was not linked to the “one China” policy, and the next day, the restrictions on arrivals from Taiwan were removed.