MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Eighteen Chinese refugees arrived by boat in the Philippines last week after fleeing the political turmoil in their country, a U.N. official said today.

Karola Paul, deputy representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said the 16 men and two women arrived June 13 aboard a wooden boat in Batanes province, 410 miles north of Manila.

She said the agency told its regional offices last week that Chinese might try to flee because of the suppression of dissent following the June 4 killing of hundreds of unarmed pro-democracy protesters by troops in Beijing.

Miss Paul said she did not know where the Chinese boat people came from but would ask Philippine authorities to grant custody to her agency.

The Chinese, who did not have travel papers, were taken to army headquarters in Manila and were to be interviewed by immigration officials, she said.

''To me, they are asylum-seekers,'' Miss Paul said. ''We have been alerted of an outflow from China since the turmoil. But it would be very difficult to say if there will be more.''

Also today, two Manila newspapers reported that the Philippine Embassy in Beijing had received queries from Chinese students seeking asylum but discouraged them for fear of offending the Beijing government.

Malaya and The Manila Chronicle quoted an unidentified source in the Department of Foreign Affairs as saying the decision to put off applicants was taken on the recommendation of Philippine diplomats in the Chinese capital.

''It would not be favorable for the Philippines because we do not have the muscle to do what the U.S. is doing,'' the newspapers quoted the source as saying. ''We don't have a bargaining chip with China.''

China has sharply criticized the United States for sheltering Chinese dissident Fang Lizhi and his wife in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

President Corazon Aquino has deplored the violence in Beijing but stopped short of criticizing China's leadership.

Last year, she visited China and received assurances from senior leader Deng Xiaoping that Beijing would not support Filipino Communist rebels seeking to establish a Marxist state in this country.

Western and Filipino sources say there is no evidence China is supporting the insurgents.