China, a country credited with fuelling Cambodia’s lucrative illegal logging trade, this week donated thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment to help protect the Kingdom’s forests.
Hang Suntra, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Forest Industry and International Cooperation Department, said that China on Tuesday donated equipment ranging from firefighting vehicles to computers. The new equipment “will help to save Cambodia’s forests from disaster”, Suntra said.
“The commitment comes from high-level discussions [between Cambodian and Chinese officials]. The commitment means they give support for our forests,” he added.
But while China’s donation has been hailed as a sign of support in the fight against deforestation, the country is also alleged to be one of the biggest drivers behind the destruction of Cambodia’s most precious timber.
In a report released earlier this year by the Environmental Investigation Agency, China’s demand for faux antique furniture was credited with fuelling the logging of endangered Siamese rosewood to the brink of extinction across the Mekong region.
The report says China’s desire for luxury Ming and Qing dynasty reproductions and artwork, known as hongmu, has left “a bloody trail of death, violence and corruption in its wake”.
An official at the Chinese Embassy who declined to be named refused to answer a reporter’s questions about the donations or China’s involvement in the logging trade.
“I think it’s not necessary to tell you,” he said.