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U.S. imposes sanctions on Chinese firm over Cambodia project

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WASHINGTON/PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday blacklisted a Chinese developer of a port, airport and resort complex in Cambodia, saying it was built on land seized from local people and there were “credible reports” it could be used to host Chinese military assets.

 

Union Development Group Co. Ltd is building the huge Dara Sakor complex in a national park on the Cambodian coast, with a runway capable of taking some of the world’s biggest planes.

 

The Chinese real-estate development company describes it as the largest regional development project in China’s global Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

 

The company and the Cambodian government have repeatedly denied Western media reports that the project has military aims.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there were “credible reports” that Dara Sakor “could be used to host (Chinese) military assets.”

 

“If so, (this) would go against Cambodia’s constitution and could threaten Indo-Pacific stability, possibly impacting Cambodia’s sovereignty and the security of our allies,” he added in a statement.

 

The U.S. Treasury Department described the company as a Chinese state-owned entity, and said it had at one point falsely registered as Cambodian-owned to get land for the project.

 

Projects funded by the firm had “forced Cambodians from their land and devastated the environment, hurting the livelihoods of local communities,” it said.

 

Union Development Group was not immediately available for comment. Cambodian government representatives and the Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

The company is registered in Cambodia as a private limited company, with its chairman listed as Li Tao. Its website says Union Group was formerly known as Tianjin Wanlong Group, a Chinese real estate developer.

REGIONAL TENSION

Southeast Asia has become one front of growing tensions between the United States and China, with the rivals at odds over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and upstream damming of the Mekong River.

 

The U.S. Treasury Department statement cited Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan as having said Dara Sakor could be converted to host military assets.

 

It did not say when he said this. In a 2019 Bloomberg News article, Phay Siphan said: “Dara Sakor is civilian - there is no base at all. ... It could be converted, yes, but you could convert anything.”

 

Cambodia’s government has repeatedly said the country will not serve as a base for any foreign army. It has become one of China’s closest regional allies in recent years.

 

The U.S. sanctions were imposed under the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the U.S. government to target human rights violators worldwide by freezing assets and prohibiting Americans from doing business with them.

 

“A permanent (Chinese) 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,” the U.S. Treasury statement said.

 

The Belt and Road initiative is China’s flagship campaign to build infrastructure across Asia, linking it to Europe. Work began on the Dara Sakor project in 2008 after Cambodia leased 45,000 hectares (111,200 acres) in a national park to the Chinese company for 99 years.

 

The company said it planned to invest $3.8 billion, building a resort with residential areas, businesses and industry. The airport would be operational by the end of this year, UDG board chairman Li told Cambodian media last month.

 

Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Matthew Tostevin

 

- -   - -    REUTERS

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And the moral of this life story is - Be careful with whom you get into bed with ................LOL

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17 minutes ago, Geoffggi said:

And the moral of this life story is - Be careful with whom you get into bed with ................LOL

Well there goes 90% of the people that I have gotten into bed with. :cheesy:

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Did anyone think to check with Hun Sen first?

His offshore bank account may suffer as a result of these sanctions

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2 hours ago, Geoffggi said:

And the moral of this life story is - Be careful with whom you get into bed with ................LOL

Cambodia is now a lost cause, Hun Sen has sold out to China... along with Laos being slowly taken over.

I hope Vietnam are watching and have more sense.

God knows what would happen if Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam all fall victim.

China would have direct access straight through to the coast of Vietnam & heaven only knows what they would build there.

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3 hours ago, Geoffggi said:

And the moral of this life story is - Be careful with whom you get into bed with ................LOL

so said the guy who just got gonorrea 555

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3 hours ago, Geoffggi said:

Be careful with whom you get into bed with

Suddenly I'm reminded of Paul McCartney's lyric in "Live And Let Die:" “But if this ever-changing world in which we live in.”

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Can't see any signs of an airport on Google maps at Dara Sakor or thereabouts.

Edited by bradiston
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3 hours ago, bradiston said:

Can't see any signs of an airport on Google maps at Dara Sakor or thereabouts.

Google satellite imaginary of that area is based 2015 or so. Here are real pics of the airport instead:

 

118860289_2713305135597000_6559155915075

118630033_2713305338930313_3895356402736

 

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6 hours ago, mascone said:

Google satellite imaginary of that area is based 2015 or so. Here are real pics of the airport instead:

 

118860289_2713305135597000_6559155915075

118630033_2713305338930313_3895356402736

 

Maps 5 years out of date? Seems odd with all their satellite imaging tech. Is there a date stamp anywhere? Your photos don't give any indication of the location. A half finished apparently abandoned airport terminal and control tower, a tourist police car and several odd bods hanging around. I guess Pompeo just has better intel!

 

I'm interested, as this report, published some weeks ago, got alarm bells ringing where I have a house, over in Trad province.

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Just search dara sakor airport on google maps and it shows the location of it.

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4 hours ago, mascone said:

Just search dara sakor airport on google maps and it shows the location of it.

Nothing to see. There are 2 photos of 2 extremely muddy fields, couple of skeketal buildings, up at what is labelled as Koh Khong airport, but I can't see anything at Dara Sakor Airport, though Google lists it. Sihanoukville has an international airport. But everything else is just a goat track. 🤔. All very strange.

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