Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, right, hands a Chinese-made CQ-A5b assault rifle to Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, during turnover ceremony Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017 in Camp Aguinaldo in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines Picture: AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

Manila - The Philippines apologised to China on Monday for a "grievous but purely unintentional" mistake after it displayed the logo of the defence ministry of Taiwan, not China, at an event last week marking Beijing's donation of 3 000 rifles to Manila.

The Department of National Defence (DND) assured China that it, together with the armed forces, still adheres to the "One China Policy".

The diplomatic faux pas went largely unnoticed, but photos of the wrong logo came out on social media.

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

"It is our sincere hope that this very unfortunate incident will not affect the cooperative and friendly relations between our two countries which has grown warmer over the past year," it said.

China donated the weapons, worth about $3.3 million, as a gesture of "friendly and cooperative relations".

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made it a priority to mend ties and boost trade with China, putting aside a long history of mistrust from territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Duterte has been praised for keeping the peace, although his critics say his China stance is defeatist.

Despite the "One China Policy", Manila also has ties with Taipei, with its Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan serving as a de facto embassy.

China regards democratic Taiwan as a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.