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Chinese diplomat arrested after birthday party ends in double murder

China’s Consul General in the country was shot through the neck, but survived.

Philippines Chinese Diplomats Killed Source: Associated Press

A CHINESE DIPLOMAT and her husband have been arrested in the Philippines, after a birthday lunch at an upscale restaurant ended in the fatal shooting of two fellow diplomats.

The South China Morning Post has named the couple as Guo Jing, who worked in visa services and her husband, Li Qingliang.

Officers retrieved a semi-automatic .45 Colt pistol and three bullet shells from the scene, police spokesman Wilben Mayor told AFP.

Police said the attack occurred at 1.30pm (5.30am Irish time) at Lighthouse, a popular restaurant that serves Filipino food in Cebu, the trading capital of the central Philippines and the nation’s second biggest city.

Staff at the upmarket restaurant told AFP a group of nine people had gathered in a private room to celebrate the birthday of the consul general, Song Ronghua.

Restaurant cashier Remedios Rivalde, 27, said she was at work at the cash register outside of the function room when she heard gunshots.

I dived under the counter and covered my ears. Then there were other shots that followed.

She said the reservation had been made shortly before lunch for the consul general’s birthday, and the group had ordered a banquet that included popular local delicacies such as tuna head, shrimps and roasted pork.

“They ordered a lot of food, but no liquor,” she said.

Song, the Consul General, was shot in the neck, but his injuries were not believed to be life threatening and he was in a stable condition in hospital, regional police chief Tom Banas told AFP.

The bullet went clear through (his neck).

Police identified his dead staff members as Sun Shan, the deputy consul general, and Hui Li, a finance officer.

Philippines Chinese Diplomats Killed Source: Associated Press

Banas said the husband and wife were arrested without any resistance.

But he said they had not immediately co-operated with police, and so the details of the shootings and the motives were not known.

They claimed they can not speak English. Maybe they don’t want to give a statement.

The South China Morning Post reports that Guo Jing and Li Qingliang were invoking diplomatic immunity from prosecution.

Lighthouse manager Stephen John Patero said staff did not see the shooting because only the guests were in the private room at the time.

But he said waiters who served them beforehand had heard the guests shouting at each other.

“They are all friends who apparently figured in an argument,” he said.

Song was born in October, 1962, according to a biography published on news website Sina News.

He has been a career diplomat, joining the foreign ministry in 1987 then serving in New Zealand, Japan and Hong Kong before his current posting, according to the biography.

A spokeswoman at the Chinese embassy in Manila, Li Lingxiao, said she could not yet comment.

“Our embassy is still verifying the facts. We’ll update you as soon as I have anything new,” Li said in a text message to AFP.

Philippine foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose also said he had no comment, as authorities were still determining what happened.

Contains reporting by AFP.

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Dan MacGuill

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