Accusations that China is behind Cambodia repression fueled by Sinophobia

By Shihlun Allen Chen Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/29 19:33:39

Current repression of certain media outlets and multiple NGOs in Cambodia has attracted many people's attention to the practice of free speech and protection of civil rights within and beyond the country's territory.

Royal spokespersons from the government of Cambodia, taxation authorities and the minister of information have all denied that recent moves have specifically targeted anti-government forces, or are part of pre-electoral suppression acts aimed at opposing forces, but not many in the international media or observers have taken these statements seriously.

In fact, some in the media have tried to connect the situation in Cambodia with forces outside the country. Long-term observers allege that anti-American groups are carrying out housecleaning at China's behest, but these journalists, political observers and scholars have not provided any factual evidence or substantive proof.

Of course, restrictions on the press and NGOs is of concern to those outside the country as it reflects the current development of democracy in Cambodia and whether the country can provide a stable investment environment.

It is thus important and understandable that people want to pay attention to the ongoing situation in Cambodia.

Due to bilateral strategic partnerships, a large number of Chinese citizens live in Cambodia and have intensive commercial interests in the country. As such, it is also very important for China to be fully aware of the current situation in the country.

But this awareness does not equate interfering with the country's internal affairs.

At the same time, there are those who have been critical that China's partnership with Cambodia, as well as its economic patronage of the country, has come without any requirements for the country to improve itself.

These criticisms seem to contradict themselves. If China is being blamed for a lack of accountability due to its policy of non-interference, how can it at the same time be accused as the force behind recent actions against the press and NGOs? The only thing that can explain what would drive people to such a logical fallacy is Sinophobia.

After five general elections and 24 years of reconstruction, Cambodia is still a relatively new democracy and economy, with many domestic and international issues that need to be addressed and solved.

Naturally, the leaders of the nation have a great responsibility to prioritize Cambodia's core strategies of national development by utilizing and optimizing internal and external resources.

Transparency is an important part of a healthy civil society. As such, during the process of developing the nation, all decisions should be thoroughly reviewed and publicly discussed, not only by the country's ruling elites, but also by the general public.

Different opinions and fair criticisms should also be respected by everyone, locally and internationally.

At the same time, Cambodia's constitutional and legal institutions, as well as its sovereignty dignity, should also be properly honored and respected by other countries.

To this end, the last thing we should be doing in giving weight to foreign interference based on subjective emotional hatred of China, as this does nothing to help. 

The author is an associate research fellow at Sun Yat-sen University.


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