China asks RP to secure quick release of worker
() - August 29, 2001 - 12:00am
China urged the Philippines yesterday to help secure the release of a Chinese worker kidnapped in Mindanao as a memorial service was held for two of his compatriots killed during a gunbattle between the military and the "Pentagon" gang of Muslim rebels.

"The life of Mr. Zhang Zhongyi is still at stake," said Chinese Ambassador Wang Chungui, who openly wept and wiped his tears while delivering a eulogy.

Wang branded the kidnappers as "inhumane and abominable" and said the death of the Chinese engineers Zhang Zhong-qiang and Xue Xing had "irreparably hurt the feelings of their family members and the fellow workers of their company."

The remaining Chinese hostage is the brother of Zhang Zhong-qiang.

The white coffins of the two men were placed side by side in front of grieving relatives, friends and co-workers in a Manila funeral parlor.

"We have strongly requested that the Philippine side take all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the remaining Chinese hostage and, under this circumstance, to have the abducted released at an early date," Wang said.

Philippine officials have tried to console China over the killings.

President Arroyo and the military offered wreaths at the funeral and Vice President Teofisto Guingona met Wang to express condolence and brief him on efforts to secure the remaining Chinese hostage.

The Pentagon gang holds Zhang and Filipino guide Edwin Lim who were in a four-member team that had gone with ransom money to seek the freedom of Zhang Zhong-qiang, who was kidnapped on June 20.

But the rebels captured all four and took the P5-million ransom money. The two men were killed during a gunbattle when the military staged a rescue. One Chinese captive escaped.

The Chinese authorities had expressed "deep concern" to the Philippine government over the killings. Manila has launched a probe into the incident to determine the circumstances under which the two had died.

Wang Lu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy, told a radio station that while the Chinese government fully supports the no-ransom policy of the Arroyo administration, they want the hostages returned alive.

He also said China appreciates "the efforts of the Philippine government in trying to rescue the hostages."

The Chinese workers were employees of a multimillion-dollar, Japanese-funded irrigation project undertaken by China Import Export Technologies Inc. in North Cotabato province.

The Chinese construction company which employed the slain men also asked the government to ensure security of about 60 other Chinese helping build the irrigation canal.

Wang said relations between the Philippines and China should not be dampened by the incident as "the broad masses of the Filipino people are friendly towards the Chinese people." - John Unson, Paolo Romero

CHINA IMPORT EXPORT TECHNOLOGIES INC CHINESE CHINESE AMBASSADOR WANG CHUNGUI CHINESE EMBASSY EDWIN LIM JOHN UNSON MR. ZHANG ZHONGYI NORTH COTABATO ONE CHINESE ZHANG ZHONG
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