Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia negotiates reopening of informal Vietnam border crossings

Cambodia negotiates reopening of informal Vietnam border crossings

Officials at a year-end police meeting at the National Police Commissariat today in Phnom Penh. National Police
Officials at a year-end police meeting at the National Police Commissariat today in Phnom Penh. National Police

Cambodia negotiates reopening of informal Vietnam border crossings

Ratankkiri provincial authorities are trying to resolve a border dispute with Vietnam, urging the Vietnamese to reopen four recently blocked border crossings, according to National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith.

The conflict originated when Cambodia rejected Vietnam’s proposal to build four new, formal border checkpoints, only accepting one. In response, Vietnam blocked off four heavily travelled, informal crossings.

Speaking to reporters following a year-end meeting of police officials, Chantharith downplayed the severity of the dispute. “We are having a special negotiation. The Ratanakkiri provincial governor is solving the problem without any huge challenge,” he said.

But Governor Nguon Keoun and his deputy, Yem Sam Oeun, said the closures have been an inconvenience to Cambodian border units, and a resolution is not imminent.

“Vietnam asked to open four more checkpoints and we thought that three of them were not important because they access the forest . . . not the paved road,” said Sam Oeun.

“On 12 December, Vietnam dug and cut up the road, but later on, they filled it up and then they built the fence to separate it,” he added.

Sam Oeun said the one agreed-upon border checkpoint has not been opened either, because it requires approval at the “national level”.

He condemned Vietnam’s response, saying it is an inconvenience to the border troops who often crossed into Vietnam to buy goods.

Sam Oeun also said the move unfairly impacts ethnic minority communities that cross the border daily to visit relatives.

“Our province and Kon Tum province have ethnic people. In fact, they are siblings and relatives, and they cross back and forth as normal,” he explained.

He said both sides would meet to discuss the issue, but a date has not yet been set.

San Chey, country director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said Vietnam may want more efficient paths for smuggling illegal timber.

“Vietnam controls many economic [land] concessions in the northeast and most of the economic concessions were accused of involvement with smuggling timber,” he said

Regional analyst Paul Chambers, with Naresuan University in Thailand, said the move was a signal that Vietnam was willing to flex its strength.

“It could signal a more aggressive stance by Vietnam amidst its perception of too strong a tilt by Cambodia toward China,” he said.

Additional reporting by Andrew Nachemson

Updated: 7:04am, Tuesday 9 January 2017

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon