The website WikiLeaks has released the first document relating to Cambodia in its cache of American diplomatic cables, in which eminent Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew discusses the Kingdom’s close relations with China.
In a diplomatic cable labeled “secret” and sent in May last year by the American embassy in Singapore, Lee comments on China’s increasing global economic and diplomatic reach, briefly mentioning Cambodia.
“Within hours, everything that is discussed in ASEAN meetings is known in Beijing, given China’s close ties with Laos, Cambodia and Burma,” the cable states, quoting Lee.
The cable is just one of more than 250,000 American foreign policy documents WikiLeaks has pledged to release gradually in the coming months. An initial batch of documents was released on Monday, and 281 had been released in total as of yesterday evening.
United States embassy spokesman Mark Wenig declined to address the content of the document.
“As a matter of policy, the Dept of State does not comment on allegedly leaked documents,” he wrote in an email yesterday. “Foreign governments should be assured that the United States Government is committed to ensuring the confidentiality of information and will continue to strengthen the security of our systems.”
Officials at the Singaporean embassy did not respond to a request for comment yesterday, nor did Chinese embassy spokesman Qian Hai. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said he would “try to check the information”, declining to comment further.
China has provided billions of dollars in investment and financial assistance to Cambodia in recent years, including a deal inked last month for US$1.6 billion worth of infrastructure projects to be constructed over the next five years.
The bulk of the cable released yesterday is focused on Lee’s analysis of North Korean and Chinese politics, with Cambodia mentioned just once. None of the more than 1,000 documents in the WikiLeaks archive that US officials classified as Cambodia-related – including 777 cables from the American embassy in Phnom Penh – have yet been made public.
Meeting with US deputy secretary of state James Steinberg, Lee, Singapore’s former prime minister and current “minister mentor”, offers candid analysis of North Korea’s nuclear strategy and China’s approach to the issue.
“If China has to choose, Beijing sees a North Korea with nuclear weapons as less bad for China than a North Korea that has collapsed,” Lee reportedly said, adding that North Korean leaders are “psychopathic types, with a ‘flabby old chap’ for a leader who prances around stadiums seeking adulation”.