The Philippines has apologised to China for inadvertently using Taiwan's defence ministry emblem instead of China's on a banner displayed at an official event in Manila last week to thank China for donating thousands of assault rifles.

Beijing's ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, also took part in the ceremony but the diplomatic faux pas was not noticed until photos from the event started circulating in social media. The occasion was originally meant to mark a "new era" of ties between the Philippines and China.

On Monday, 9 October, the Philippines government issued an apology for the error. "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," read a statement from Manila's defence department.

"We have issued an official apology to the government and the people of the People's Republic of China," the statement added.

Beijing had originally donated about 3,000 assault rifles and ammunition, worth about $3.3m (£2.5m) as a friendly gesture towards Manila. The Philippines government, under President Rodrigo Duterte, has been aiming for closer ties with China after gradually easing the close military ties with the US.

China considers Taiwan, which has no separate diplomatic relations with the Philippines, as a breakaway province and so far has not ruled out using military invasion to retake the region. China has not yet responded to the gaffe.

Philippines Taiwan logo gaffe
Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (C) aims an automatic rifle during the turnover ceremony of China's urgent military assistance to the Philippines at the military camp in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon city, metro Manila Romeo Ranoco/Reuters