MANILA, Philippines – China on Friday warned its citizens not to travel to the Philippines after a Chinese teenager who worked in a family-run store was kidnapped.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said it was worried because of plots confirmed by the police in the Philippines that criminal groups planned to attack the Chinese embassy, Chinese companies and public venues such as malls.
"Given that the safety situation in the Philippines is deteriorating, the consular service of the foreign ministry is asking Chinese nationals not to travel to the Philippines for the time being," the warning read.
The warning comes as relations between the countries have soured and even turned hostile in recent years as Beijing and Manila battle over claims to the same territory in the South China Sea.
On late Thursday, 18-year-old Li Peizhi was seized by unidentified gunmen in Zamboanga Sibugay province's Kabasalan township, Senior Inspector Leo Castillo said.
The gunmen also took 20,000 pesos ($455) from the store's cash register.
Castillo, the provincial police spokesman, said officers in pursuit found the kidnappers' vehicle burning in a village about two kilometers (1.25 miles) away.
Mayor George Cainglet said Abu Sayyaf militants who kidnapped Australian Warren Richard Rodwell in 2011 may have been involved. He said no ransom demand had been made.