PRIME Minister Hun Sen has warned provincial governors not to permit the establishment of Taiwanese government bureaus or offices at the sub-national level, reiterating Cambodia’s adherence to the Chinese government’s One-China Policy.
Speaking at a forum on the government’s sub-national development programme yesterday, Hun Sen said provincial governors were appointed by central authorities, and would “be fired immediately” if they allowed Taiwan to establish a political presence with their jurisdictions.
“[Taiwan] has wanted to set up such bureaus again and again. But I would like to stress that it is impossible on this matter,” the premier said.
“If the provincial governors think they are in power and Taiwan wants to hold any ceremony in their province or post any Taiwanese flags, there would be disaster quickly. I would like to send a message at this point.
“We follow the One-China Policy Taiwan is a just one province of the People’s Republic of China.”
Chinese embassy spokesman Qian Hai said yesterday that China “appreciated” the Cambodian government’s support, and that China was not opposed to Taiwan pursuing “private” business in the Kingdom.
The One-China Policy paints Taiwan as an indivisible part of the Chinese mainland, and calls for a peaceful reunification of the two territories under Beijing’s rule.
The premier’s comments came after officials withdrew Taiwanese flags from tables at a business forum in Phnom Penh on July 1.
At the Cambodia and Taiwan Business Meeting, jointly organised by the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce and the Taiwan Commercial Association of Cambodia, Taiwanese flags were visible on the tables during an opening speech by YH Chiang, the commissioner of Taiwan’s Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission.
Kith Meng, chairman of the CCC, admitted at the time that flags were removed by officials. “There were Taiwanese flags put on the table by a Taiwanese company, but we took them away,” he said. “We solved it.”
Professor Bruce Jacobs, a specialist in Taiwanese politics at Monash University in Melbourne, said the effort to block Taiwanese diplomatic efforts and prevent the display of Taiwanese flags – a controversial symbol even in Taiwan itself – was not surprising, and would likely not affect business.
“To the best of my knowledge, Taiwanese business in Cambodia is welcome,” he said.
Taiwanese officials in Thailand could not be reached yesterday.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY TEP NIMOL AND JAMES O’TOOLE