Philippines apologizes to China for using Taiwan logo at ceremony


Posted at Oct 09 2017 03:12 PM | Updated as of Oct 09 2017 04:30 PM

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (2nd from L), with H.E. Zhao Jianhua (2nd from R), ambassador of People's Republic of China to the Philippines and General Eduardo Ano (R), Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, inspects automatic rifles during the turnover ceremony of China's urgent military assistance to the Philippines at the military camp in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon city, metro Manila, Philippines October 5, 2017. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

The Philippines apologized to China on Monday for a "grievous but purely unintentional" mistake after it displayed the logo of the defense ministry of Taiwan, not China, at an event last week marking Beijing's donation of 3,000 rifles to Manila.

The Department of National Defence (DND) assured China that it, together with the armed forces, still adheres to the "One China Policy".

The diplomatic faux pas went largely unnoticed, but photos of the wrong logo came out on social media.

"We have issued an official apology to the government and the people of the People's Republic of China," the DND said in a statement.

"It is our sincere hope that this very unfortunate incident will not affect the cooperative and friendly relations between our two countries which has grown warmer over the past year," it said.

China donated the weapons, worth about $3.3 million, as a gesture of "friendly and cooperative relations".

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made it a priority to mend ties and boost trade with China, putting aside a long history of mistrust from territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Duterte has been praised for keeping the peace, although his critics say his China stance is defeatist.

Despite the "One China Policy", Manila also has ties with Taipei, with its Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan serving as a de facto embassy.

China regards democratic Taiwan as a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. (Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty and Paul Tait)