U.S. orders arms embargo on Cambodia is citing Chinese influence

U.S. orders arms embargo on Cambodia is citing Chinese influence

December 10, 2021: -The U.S. has ordered an arms embargo on Cambodia, cited deepening Chinese military influence, corruption, and human rights abuses by the government and armed forces in the Southeast Asian country.

On Thursday, the added restrictions on defense-related goods and services issued by the State and Commerce departments are due to be published and take effect.

A notice in the Federal Register said that developments in Cambodia were “contrary to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”

The embargo aims to ensure that defense-related items are not available to Cambodia’s military and military intelligence services without advance review by the U.S. government, it said.

The recent restrictions follow the Treasury Department’s ordering in November of sanctions against two senior Cambodian military officials for corruption and come between increasing concern recent Beijing’s sway.

At the time, the U.S. government issued an advisory cautioning American businesses regarding potential exposure to entities Cambodia and its military that “engage in human rights abuses, corruption, and other destabilizing conduct.”

Cambodia branded those sanctions as “motivated,” It would not discuss them with Washington.

The U.S. has controls on exports of items that might be diverted to “military end-users” in Myanmar, China, Russia, and Venezuela.

U.S. exports to Cambodia in 2019 totaled $5.6 billion. The U.S. is the biggest export market for Cambodia, a significant garments manufacturing hub, but three-quarters of Cambodia’s imports are from China and different countries in Asia.

Hun Sen remaining prime minister. The U.S. halted military assistance to Cambodia after a 1997 coup in which the country’s leader, Hun Sen, grabbed complete power after ousting his co-premier, Prince Norodom Ranariddh. In August 2005, President George W. Bush waived the ban, citing Phnom Penh’s agreement to exempt Americans in Cambodia from prosecution by the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court.

Since direct military ties between the countries were restored in 2006, the U.S. is pledging millions in military aid to Cambodia, started to help improve its border security and peacekeeping operations.

China is Cambodia’s huge investor and political partner. It was the chief backer of the murderous regime of Pol Pot in the 1970s and has maintained strong relations with Hun Sen, ruling for over 30 years and growing increasingly repressive.

Beijing’s support allowed Cambodia to disregard Western concerns about its poor record in human and political rights. In turn, Cambodia generally in supporting Beijing’s geopolitical positions on its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

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U.S. orders arms embargo on Cambodia is citing Chinese influence