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China, Cambodia Mark Successful Law Enforcement Cooperation

In this photo taken on Oct 12, 2017, Chinese, in an orange vest, arrested over an alleged internet scam, are escorted by Chinese police officers before boarding at Phnom Penh International Airport, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The high number of Chinese nationals residing in the country is a result of the Cambodia’s geopolitical pivot towards China

The Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh on Thursday lauded law enforcement cooperation efforts between the two countries that have seen around 1,000 Chinese nationals, accused of varying crimes, deported in the last 12 months.

To mark the occasion, the Chinese Embassy posted on Facebook that at least 1,000 Chinese nationals were deported in the last year. Additionally, a Cambodian Ministry of Interior press release from August reported that at least 2,700 Chinese had been deported since 2014.

“After the China-Cambodia Law Enforcement Cooperation Office was established, the enforcement agencies of the two countries have worked closely with each other to crack down on any crimes that affect the lives, property and safety of both citizens,” the Facebook post read.

As the number of Chinese nationals have increased in Cambodia over the last few year, Cambodian police have routinely arrested and deported hundreds of Chinese nationals for crimes such as online gambling operations, drug trafficking, violent crimes and prostitution.

Immigration Department chief Kirth Chantharith could not be reached for comment. Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak welcomed the efforts of the two countries to reduce expatriate crime in Cambodia.

“If we find that the documents are sufficient and Chinese authority have a warrant for the crime, we will take action,” Khieu Sopheak said. “We do it alone and not with the Chinese authorities’ [directions]. They just get the suspects.”

The high number of Chinese nationals residing in the country is a result of the Cambodia’s geopolitical pivot towards China, where the latter has significantly increased its investment in the Southeast Asian country, around $8 billion between 2016 and August 2019.

The majority of this investment has centered in the coastal town of Sihanoukville, which has seen an exponential increase in casinos and Chinese-owned businesses catering to Chinese gamblers. Cambodian residents of the town have expressed dissatisfaction at the heavy influx of foreign nationals, especially the accompanying increase in crime and cost of living.

San Chey, executive director of the Cambodian Social Accountability Alliance, said both countries needed to closely scrutinize Chinese nationals moving to Cambodia to prevent and reduce security lapses.

“I think they should have a mechanism to monitor or identity some of these Chinese nationals before they come to Cambodia while the Cambodian authorities seem to allow a lot of loopholes in oversight over Chinese living in the country,” he said.