China protests Manila senator's corruption outburst

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MANILA, Sep 27 (Reuters) Beijing today protested an outburst by a Philippine senator who said China had ''invented corruption'' during an inquiry into allegations of bribery in a 330 million dollars telecoms deal with a Chinese company.

Saying she resented being dragged into the furore surrounding the deal, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago told the inquiry yesterday ''That's why these Chinese love to invite people to play golf, have dinner and give free tickets to China.'' ''China invented civilisation in the East, but as well it invented corruption for all of human civilisation,'' added the senator, who heads the foreign relations panel of the upper house of Congress, before she stormed out.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila issued a statement criticising Defensor-Santiago, an ally of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

''Such kinds of comments are neither fair nor correct,'' the statement, released today, said.

''We believe that the Philippine government and the people of the Philippines will not agree to that. Corruption exists not only in China, nor was it created by China.'' Defensor-Santiago said she would write a letter of apology to the Chinese ambassador.

''I will never denigrate the Chinese because I married one,'' she said. ''I've always been a great admirer of Chinese civilisation.'' At the inquiry, Romulo Neri, a former head of a Philippine economic planning agency said he was offered a .4 million bribe to approve a deal with China's ZTE Corp by the head of the Commission on Elections, Benjamin Abalos.

Abalos denied he had offered the bribe or brokered the deal, but he admitted travelling to China to play golf with ZTE Corp executives.

The Philippines stands at 131 in global transparency rankings, among the most corrupt countries in the world, according to a report released this week by Transparency International.

China ranks 72.

Reuters SS GC1619

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