The Philippines apologised to China on Monday, days after embarrassingly using the logo of rival Taiwan at an official defence ministry ceremony to accept a Chinese donation of rifles and ammunition.

A banner with the logos of the Philippine and Taiwanese defence ministries hung above the stage Thursday as Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Chinese ambassador Zhao Jianhua sat together to witness the weapons turnover.

File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“Military assistance gratis from the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China,” read the banner, with the wrong logo apparently not attracting attention at the time.

“The Department of National Defence committed a grievous but purely unintentional mistake of using a different logo on a banner to represent the Ministry of Defence of the People’s Republic of China,” said a Philippine defence ministry statement.

“We have issued an official apology to the government and the people of the People’s Republic of China,” it said, adding that Philippine defence authorities and the military “strictly adhere” to Manila’s “One China Policy”.

The Philippines has no diplomatic ties with self-ruling Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province.

The Chinese embassy could not be reached for comment.

The Philippines, a military ally of the United States for decades, is trying under President Rodrigo Duterte to build warmer relations with China.

The weapons from China were the second batch to be delivered to the Philippines this year to help Duterte fight Islamist militants who have been occupying parts of the southern city of Marawi since May.

The two neighbours had long been at loggerheads over disputed islands and waters in the South China Sea, though Duterte has sought to play down the issue as he seeks more trade and investment from Beijing.

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