The Federal government announced last week new sanctions against a Chinese state-owned corporation for allegedly engaging in human rights abuses in Cambodia.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the firm was involved in the construction of a development project in Cambodia that was built upon land that was seized from the locals. The firm allegedly used an intermediary to cause the Cambodian army to intimidate reluctant landowners to leave prior to its acquisition of a 99-year lease of the 90,000-acre site.
OFAC says the firm fraudulently registered as a Cambodian entity in order to obtain the land, subsequently dropping the pretense after the construction project had begun. The firm also allegedly built part of the project on a protected natural area that could only be conveyed via royal decree.
The firm has been used extensively to dispossess Cambodians of their land and destroyed natural habitat in order to build project to project their power, accuses OFAC. They say the purpose of the project in Cambodia is part of its plan to make the country a hub for the One Belt One Road program, which they indicate will create far more benefit for Beijing than Cambodia.
More troubling is a statement by the Cambodian government that the site could easily host military assets. OFAC says a permanent military presence in Cambodia could prove to be destabilizing to the region and jeopardize the safety and security of ships and planes safely traversing the area.
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