Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday, 16 September 2020


U.S. Sanctions on Firm Tied to Cambodia Project

Bloomberg News

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China on Wednesday criticized a U.S. government decision to level sanctions against a state-owned company responsible for the development of a project along the coast of Cambodia that it’s concerned may ultimately be used as a military base.

Union Development Group Co., Ltd., which is building a $3.8 billion development project in western Koh Kong, became the latest Chinese company to face U.S. sanctions on Tuesday amid continued pressure on businesses seen as complicit in advancing China’s “ambitions to project power globally.”

Advertised as a tourism-based investment zone, Dara Sakor last year fanned U.S. concerns the resort could be part of a larger Chinese plan to base military assets in Cambodia. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control accused the company of seizing and demolishing land belonging to locals.

“The Chinese government always requires its overseas enterprises to abide by local laws and regulations,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a regular briefing in Beijing. “China and Cambodia are traditional, friendly neighbors. Our cooperation projects are open and above board, based on equality and mutual benefit.”

Wang also accused the U.S. of “outright hypocrisy and double standards” for having military bases around the world. “China and the international community will take necessary measures to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of the relevant companies,” he said.

In a release announcing the sanctions, the U.S. stated “a permanent PRC military presence in Cambodia could threaten regional stability and undermine the prospects for the peaceful settlement of disputes, the promotion of maritime safety and security, and the freedom of navigation and overflight.”

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