MANILA, Philippines – China should not throw a tantrum over the issue of some Chinese being linked to an $81-million cyber-heist, as the accusation is only against its citizens and not the government, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said yesterday.
He was reacting to Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang’s labeling him irresponsible for linking Chinese hackers to the loss of the Bangladesh government’s $81-million deposit in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
“We are used to China’s tantrums. They need not hyperventilate on this issue,” Recto said. “It’s not the Chinese government, but Chinese citizens who are involved.”
“Clearly the Senate hearings have shown the involvement of their citizens. Persons of interest are Chinese nationals,” he added, ruling out an apology.
“We’re not saying it is a state-sanctioned project, or a government-instigated enterprise. Crimes committed by citizens should not be blamed on the state,” he added.
What the Chinese government should do, he said, is help the international community identify the hackers who stole the money, which ended up in the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and later in Philippine casinos.
“Every minute of delay in stopping these hackers increases the risk of cyber attack on the international banking community,” he added.
Recto stressed he would never accuse the Chinese government of sanctioning hacking, except on the issue of the West Philippine Sea. “In the West Philippine Sea, it’s very clear their hackers are involved. They’ve been hacking away large chunks of territory from us,” Recto said.
“They have built a Great Wall of Sand in our territory. They don’t have the basis to ask me to correct my statement,” he added.
The senator said the Chinese foreign ministry official’s outburst could be a ploy to divert the international community’s attention from China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea.
“They’ve fenced off our traditional fishing grounds, set up ‘no fishing” and ‘do not enter’ signs, massive reclamation – these are the things the Chinese government needs to explain,” Recto said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) should return whatever amount it earned from the cyber-heist.
He said officers of Solaire Resort and Casino and Midas Hotel and Casino have testified at Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearings that part of the amounts lost in their gambling tables by Chinese gamblers has been remitted to Pagcor as the latter’s share from the two casinos’ earnings.