Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy says China aid to blame for rights abuses

Rainsy says China aid to blame for rights abuses

Xi Jinping, president of China and the Communist Party, and Prime Minister Hun Sen shake hands on Thursday.
Xi Jinping, president of China and the Communist Party, and Prime Minister Hun Sen shake hands on Thursday. Hong Menea

Rainsy says China aid to blame for rights abuses

Days after signing a statement welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to Cambodia, opposition leader Sam Rainsy took to Radio Free Asia to slam China for enabling human rights abuses in the Kingdom with no-strings-attached loans.

Over the past two decades, China has invested billions of dollars in mining, hydro-power dams, and other infrastructure projects in Cambodia. During a visit to the Kingdom last week, Xi cemented future cooperation between the two countries with the signing of 31 agreements, including $238 million in soft loans, $89 million in debt forgiveness and $15 million in military aid.

But according to Rainsy, this influx of funding has fuelled corruption and offered questionable economic advantages.

“There are [Chinese-funded] mines and deforestation, and the people are victims of those projects; they are victims of land grabbing and abuse, and China doesn’t give any consideration to human rights,” Rainsy elaborated in an interview yesterday. “That’s why the Cambodian government likes to get loans from China, it is easy money.”

“The net benefit for Cambodia is unclear, because China takes back with one hand what she gives with the other,” he added, arguing that Chinese projects often pillage Cambodia’s natural resources and disproportionately benefit China.

However, Rainsy’s position appeared to be at odds with his party’s official stance.

Party spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday said it was up to the ruling CPP to ensure respect for human rights, not the Chinese. “We want to build a relationship with all countries in the world,” he added. “Whether or not Chinese loans are providing a benefit to Cambodia depends on the way they are used by the politicians and the ruling party.”

Traditionally, the CNRP has maintained a pro-China line. In 2014, Rainsy himself announced that his party supported China in its territorial dispute with Vietnam in the South China Sea. And just days ago, in a CNRP statement, Rainsy and deputy party leader Kem Sokha welcomed Xi to Cambodia with great fanfare.

Human rights consultant Billy Tai yesterday agreed that Chinese aid contributed to human rights abuses, but said a lack of government oversight was exacerbating the problem.

“The lack of governance over large-scale private investment for development is what’s directly contributing to human rights abuses,” Tai said. “Those funds can be from China, but also from other countries.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the