Drug-rehab center donor faces China bribery raps


CHINESE billionaire and philanthropist Huang Rulun, who played a key role in the revival of Philippines-China relations under the Duterte presidency, is under investigation over allegations of corruption in his homeland.

The Financial Times on Tuesday reported that Beijing’s anti-corruption watchdog said Huang Rulun, whose worth is listed by the Forbes magazine at around $3.6 billion, is being investigated over bribery allegations after getting removed from a high-level advisory body in Fujian province last week due to suspicion of bribery. 

Huang’s company, Century Golden Resources Group, a privately-held Chinese real estate firm, has been tagged by Chinese state media as a source of bribes paid to Bai Enpai, the party secretary of Yunnan province, in connection with a corruption case.

This developed as China expressed its intentions Wednesday to have a greater role in the Philippines’ ongoing drive against Islamic State-inspired militants, setting a “new era” for the bilateral relations between the former rivals. 

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua

In a speech during the turnover of Beijing’s free urgent military assistance to Manila, worth P370 million, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua announced its intentions to enter into joint training, intelligence sharing, military exercises between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Chinese military in a concerted fight against terrorism.

“The Chinese government and the Chinese military forces will continue to firmly support your fight against terrorism. We are looking forward to further enhancement of efforts to fighting terrorism, bilaterally and regional and international context,” Ambassador Zhao said at the Clark Airbase in Mabalacat, Pampanga. 

“Terrorism is the enemy both China and the Philippines are facing and it binds our two militaries. To further enhance cooperation in these areas, the Chinese side would like to express the possibility of joint training, intelligence sharing and joint military exercises in the area of fighting terrorism,” he added. 

Zhao also announced there would be a second batch to be delivered “in the coming months.”

On Wednesday, China donated some 6 million pieces of ammunitions for the three different sets of firearms it donated–including the TY-85 7.62mm sniper rifles, CS/LR4A high precision rifles, and the CQ-A5 5.56 auto rifle. 

China’s military aid to the Philippines comes after both Australia and the United States extended their support to strengthening the military’s capability in fighting terrorism. 

Saying that China is likewise a “victim of terrorism,” Zhao announced that a P5-million aid would be given to the families of wounded and killed soldiers in Marawi City, which is on top of the 15 million given last Tuesday for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of conflict-affected areas.  

“China is ready to raise the important consensus raised by President Duterte and President Xi Jinping to gain a fighting hand in infrastructure and anti-poverty. And now, our cooperation will cover the socio-economic development of Mindanao,” the envoy said. 

 Zhao earlier said Beijing was eyeing an enhancement of the defense and military ties between the two countries, saying it would “enhance trust and mutual confidence to avoid incidents of misunderstanding because no country, including China and the Philippines, wants conflict or tension.” 

In the same speech, Zhao said the Chinese government “expresses appreciation to the friendly polices of the Philippine government” towards Beijing. 

“It is a demonstration of our improving bilateral relationship. This is a new era of coooperation between our countries.”

The alleged bribes Bai received from Huang totaled 246 million yuan (around $36 million), paid between 2000 and 2013, Chinese state media reported.

In a Palace news briefing, Communications Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag said the Palace sees the investigation as internal to China.

“That is of course internal to China and rest assured that President Duterte is one with the President of the People’s Republic of China in its drive against corruption,” Banaag said, adding the outcome of the investigation on bribery allegations was all “up to China.” 

The Palace official, however, declined to comment when asked if the Palace would continue to accept donations or assistance from the Chinese philanthropist following the incident. 

The Chinese billionaire, who started his business in Binondo, Manila, donated P1.4 billion for two drug rehabilitation centers occupying a total area of 100,000 square meters.

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