Cambodian police remain on the lookout for 20 Chinese nationals who earlier this month posted a video clip threatening to stoke insecurity in Preah Sihanouk province, though the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh maintained the group posed no threats to Cambodia’s national security.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post on Sunday that police are looking to arrest the 20 Chinese nationals even though they are not currently staying in Cambodia and despite the Chinese Embassy downplaying their threat.
“We have yet to locate them because they are not in Cambodia now. Of course, we will arrest them should they return to Cambodia,” he said.
Early this month, a video clip showing a gang of 20 Chinese nationals making the threat went viral on social media. The gang members, most of whom were half naked, threatened to stoke insecurity and chaos in the province for three years to come.
After the video clip went viral, the Chinese Embassy assured Cambodian authorities of its collaboration in an investigation into the gang’s activities.
On Friday, the embassy said on its Facebook page that the gang, who hailed from the Chinese city of Chongqing, were not involved with an online triad as initially asserted by Cambodian police.
The embassy said an investigation by Chinese authorities found the video clip was intended as a joke and was made when they were drunk.
“A thorough investigation by Chinese authorities found that the video was recorded by a group of Chinese nationals from Chongqing city who came to work in Cambodia in March this year. They were drunk and made such a bad video as a joke. Various individuals in the video are not involved in any triad,” the embassy said.
However, Khoeun said the gang had committed “flagrant” offences in Cambodia, but he declined to elaborate what action Chinese authorities would take to hold their 20 nationals accountable to Cambodian law.
“If China does nothing to their citizens, I don’t know what to say. We want them because they broke Cambodian law, but if China says their actions are not against their law, then I don’t know what to say,” he said.
Cambodian lawyer Lor Chunthy said the 20 Chinese nationals should be sent to face Cambodian law for committing flagrant offences on Cambodian soil.
Chunthy said the Chinese’s offence was serious enough to be sent to court. He said their threat to cause insecurity as recorded in the video was a criminal offence that could affect national security even though they were drunk.
“They used alcohol, made the threat and claimed it was a joke. This is illegal. By law, they all need to be arrested and punished. It was intentional . . . such a ‘joke’ cannot be tolerated,” he said.
Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, agreed that the security threat made by the 20 Chinese nationals was serious as it hurt the feelings of Cambodians and could affect investors’ sentiment in the country.
Phea urged China to hold their nationals accountable to maintain good relations between the two countries.
“Some Cambodians who had posted less serious contents [on social media] were arrested and imprisoned by authorities. So how can the 20 Chinese nationals who threatened to cause unrest in Cambodia be spared?
“They claimed it was a joke, but Cambodians who posted less serious contents on social media to insult Cambodian leaders have already been jailed. So this is not a minor issue. Although they claimed it was a joke, they must be punished under Cambodian law as the offence was committed in Cambodia,” he said.
The Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment on Sunday.