Cambodia: God in the election campaign

Buddhist, Khmer Rouge, partner of the West, China's best friend: Cambodia's premier Hun Sen gets every turn. Before the election day he presents himself as a descendant of the God Kings of Angkor.

Cambodia: God in the election campaign
  • Page 1 — God in election campaign
  • Page 2 — "I'm no longer a ideologue"
  • Page 3 — his ego runs out of control
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    The Cambodian seaside resort Sihanoukville on Gulf of Thailand was once an insider tip for young backpackers and late hippies. On vast sandy beaches, local traders sold Angkor beer and pitched coconuts for a few cents, cozy guest houses messenger rooms under $20. Every evening was party at Serendipity Beach.

    Today excavators everywhere are digging through mud. It creates luxurious apartment blocks and expensive hotels – but above all, gambling casinos. The Oriental Pearl and new MGM are among latest in last two years, 20 establishments have been opened for roulette, blackjack and poker. From once so sleepy port city has become a player's paradise, also called Khmer-Las Vegas.

    The new lords of city and ir guests come almost exclusively from People's Republic of China. They don't like coconut juice, y avoid cheap locals with local dishes and instead go to tuk-Tuks in rented limousines. They come with charter machines from Beijing or Shanghai, 200,000 were re last year – more than Sihanoukville residents did.

    This article comes from time No. 31/2018. Here you can read entire output.

    Cambodian citizens are prohibited from gambling by law. They feel as strangers in ir own country in face of glittering world. "Sihanoukville has no Chinatown, Sihanoukville is a Chinatown," says one of last stall owners on beach. He wants to give up in autumn too.

    Beijing's rulers determine fate not only in Cambodia's only deep-sea port. They build new roads, such as a four-lane highway from coast to capital Phnom Penh. They lay railroad tracks in west and plan hydroelectric power stations in east of country. You enlarge airport of Siem Reap, gateway to world famous temples of Angkor. Ten Chinese cities already have direct flights to Siem Reap, subsidized by KP leadership. The People's Republic dominates Cambodia on all fronts – in meantime more than one third of all direct investment comes from re. Beijing buys huge rice plantations, manages it with its own experts. Beijing also supplies weapons, alone 2017 more than a hundred modern tanks and troop transporters.

    Cambodia is about to become a kind of modern colony of China. The dependence is also evident in fact that Cambodia is supporting China's highly dubious claims to Paracelsus and Spratly Islands in international law – and is opposing its Asian neighbors, EU and US.

    Time Online

    The strong man of country, who is responsible for this course, is not allowed to come: "Whoever accuses me of being too close to China, I would like to say: The West did not offer anything to me! You just cursed me, made me rules, threatened me with sanctions! ", Prime minister calls in Treng, a small town in norast of country angrily. But n he radiates again, festive date here on Mekong he does not want to be spoiled. He has just inaugurated a 57 million-dollar bridge, financed of course from Beijing, and he walks hand in hand with Chinese ambassador over new viaduct. For China, this is anor building block of gigantic 900 billion-dollar project "New Silk Road", which, with its investments from Piraeus to Pakistan, extends from Samarkand to Somalia.

    It is election campaign time, on 29 July Cambodians will appoint a new parliament. Hun Sen is feverishly working on fact that re will again be a landslide victory for his People's Party. He tours through towns and villages, opens a school after or, who bears his name, donates to monasteries and hospitals: kind far of nation. But anyone who criticizes him must reckon with reprisals. He banned largest opposition party in November 2017 to put ir leader under flimsy accusations of "treason" to jail. Protesters were shot on open road, perpetrators unknown. And also independent Cambodia Daily had to close. "Our country is on way from autocracy to dictatorship," newspaper titled in its last edition.

    Date Of Update: 29 July 2018, 12:00

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