US Orders Embargo On Cambodia

( Last Thursday, citing concerns over China’s military presence and other activities in Cambodia, the US State Department ordered an arms embargo on the country.

In June, the State Department had expressed grave concerns over a CCP military base in Cambodia and the threat it posed to Cambodian sovereignty and regional security. Despite the State Department’s repeated concerns, Cambodia continued to allow the Chinese to expand its military presence and construct “exclusive-use facilities on the Gulf of Thailand.”

US officials cited evidence of corruption, human rights abuses, and the Cambodian government’s exclusive agreement with China on military expansion in Cambodia as reasons for concern.

The purpose of the embargo is to ensure that any defense articles and services set to be imported and exported by Cambodia are not done without prior review and approval of the United States.

China’s growing influence in this Southeast Asian country comes amid strained relationships between the US and Cambodia over reports that Cambodia’s ruling party is persecuting its political opponents. Last month, the US Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on two senior members of Cambodia’s Ministry of National Defense citing corruption.

The Treasury Department sanctioned Chau Phirun and Tea Vinh for conspiring with others to inflate the cost of construction at the Ream Naval Base to skim funds from the project. US officials were also concerned that the Ream Naval Base would be used to further the Chinese military presence in Cambodia.

In its statement, the Department of Treasury also warned that the growing system corruption in Cambodia poses a threat to national security and the economic growth of Cambodia.

China has defended its “iron-clad friendship” with Cambodia, describing their relationship as “comprehensive strategic partners.”

This month, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn met with China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in China’s Zhejiang Province. During those talks, Wang described both countries as “a community with a shared future,” saying they should unite even closer to safeguard their “legitimate and legal rights and interests” to “maintain regional peace, stability, and development.”