These are always fun stories, but the writers tend to have problems identifying the agents involved.
In the most recent deal, the Cambodian government sold off more than 130 square miles of a national park to a Chinese developer, Tianjin Union Development Group, which promises “extravagant feasting and revelry” and has already cut a 40-mile road through virgin forest that’s habitat to endangered tigers and elephants, and sent the people who lived in these lands for generations off packing.
And it’s thinking big, planning a city-sized $3.8 billion complex with a casino named after the fabled Angkor Wat. Not even Sheldon Adelson, whose Venetian Macao is among the world’s largest, has his own dock for cruise ships, or an international airport.
It’s just the most recent result of Chinese largesse to Cambodia. The mainland government has become its major donor by far, with just under $2 billion in direct aid last year for various infrastructure projects. In return, more than 400 Chinese investors have flocked to Cambodia between 1994 and 2011, much of it in large scale projects like mining and hydropower on what used to be public land.
Companies run by Chinese
gangsters nationals have previously opened up casinos in Myanmar and Laos. In the former case Chinese security officers actually conducted cross border raids of the facilities (PDF, great report in general on China’s policies towards Myanmar), and have dealt with problems relating to drugs and human trafficking at the casinos. In the latter, very similar, case (the company was also involved in Myanmar), China complained aggressively to the Laos government until the Casinos were shut down.
One can only assume that the situation in Cambodia is the same. This has nothing to do with “Chinese largess” this has to do with Chinese gangsters looking for a space where they can commit crimes. Deep in the wilderness of Cambodia seems like a much easier place to do it than along the border with China, where someone is actually watching.