HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: CHINESE EXPANSION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: CHINESE EXPANSION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

Op-Ed: War on the Rocks

CHARLES EDELMAY 9, 2019 COMMENTARY

Beijing’s geopolitical moves continue to obfuscate its larger designs, surprise observers, and render the United States and its allies reactive. The prospect of a Chinese naval base in Cambodia offers a case in point.

This issue — seemingly obscure and inconsequential to many observers — made the news in late 2018 when American Vice President Mike Pence raised it in a letter to Cambodia’s increasingly authoritarianleader, Hun Sen. Subsequently, Hun Sen dismissed media reports that China sought a naval base in Cambodia as “fake news.” In repeated denials, he proclaimed that Cambodia’s constitution prohibits any foreign country from setting up military bases within the country’s sovereign territory.

Recent satellite imagery depicting an airport runway in Cambodia’s remote Koh Kong province. Its length is similar to those built on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and it is long enough to support Chinese military reconnaissance, fighter, and bomber aircraft. Source: EO Browser.

Hun Sen promised with Vietnam’s leader not to allow foreign military base in Cambodia soil

And yet, questions remain. Recent commercial satellite imagery shows that Union Development Group, a Chinese-owned construction firm, has been rushing to complete a runway in Cambodia’s remote Koh Kong province on the southwestern coast. It appears long enough to support military aircraft and matches the length of the runways built on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea to support military reconnaissance, fighter and bomber aircraft. Moreover, given the amount of political and economic support Hun Sen has received from Beijing, his independence seems increasingly doubtful.

However, these accusations and denials prevent a meaningful discussion of what the establishment of such a base would mean and what an appropriate response to such an eventuality would look like. They also obscure the question of why Beijing would seek to build a military base in Cambodia.

For Beijing, the strategic dividends of acquiring a military base in southeast Asia are numerous: a more favorable operational environment in the waters ringing southeast Asia, a military perimeter ringing and potentially enclosing mainland southeast Asia, and potentially easier and less restricted access to the Indian Ocean. These benefits are not all of equal value to Chinese strategists, nor does China need any of them immediately. But the logic of Chinese expansion suggests that sooner or later, Beijing will need such a military outpost in southeast Asia, and Hun Sen’s Cambodia presents especially fertile geographic and political soil.

While Hun Sen currently denies that he would allow the rotational presence of the Chinese military or a more permanent Chinese military base on Cambodian territory, strategy often deals in the realm of the possible. Proactively dealing with this challenge requires understanding the Chinese template for developing military bases, thinking through the strategic effects of such a base in Cambodia, and developing options to forestall such a development.

The Chinese Template

Forming a picture of what a Chinese military outpost in Cambodia could look like and how quickly one could become operational is not an act of wild speculation. Chinese efforts elsewhere provide evidence of a simple template. In the South China Sea, in Djibouti, and in other locations in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Beijing has followed a similar pattern in which denial precedes further action and helps to veil the full extent of Beijing’s aims.

The Chinese template for construction of new military basing was on full display in the South China Sea, where Beijing pursued the quick buildup and rapid militarization of facilities in the Spratly Islands. Chinese officials denied that plans existed for base construction even as Chinese fisherman and private construction companies began to undertake such efforts. Once base construction was underway, Chinese officials claimed such actions were undertaken for humanitarian purposes and continually promised they would not militarize the South China Sea. Once militarization of these facilities was complete, Beijing again shifted its explanations, noting that the military bases were purely defensive in nature. Finally, the Chinese military began building hangars and infrastructure required to deploy fighter jets and other military aircraft to these islands, just as they installed anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and military jamming equipment.

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Toby Leung’s Charity Work Improves Lives of Child Sex Trafficking Victims

យោងតាមអត្ថបទនេះ ការជួញដូរមនុស្សនិងការលក់ក្មេងស្រីទៅបំរើពេស្យាចារគឺមានស្អេកស្អៈនៅប្រទេសខ្មែរ។ ក្នុងរបាយការណ៌នេះ ក្នុងមួយឆ្នាំអង្គការAIMរំដោះក្មេងបាន១៦០០នាក់ អាយុរវាង៨ទៅ១៨ឆ្នាំ។ មានក្មេងស្រីអាយុ១៤ឆ្នាំត្រូវបានជួយសង្គ្រោះ តែជាអកុសលមុនការសង្គ្រោះ២២ថ្ងៃ ក្មេងស្រីម្នាក់នេះត្រូវបានគេរំលោភផ្លូវភេទដោយមនុស្ស១៨៩នាក់។ ដែលគួរអោយរន្ធត់បំផុតគឺព្រោះតែភាពក្រីក្រ កូនស្រីអាយុ២ឆ្នាំក៏ត្រូវបានម្តាយលក់ទៅអោយមេបនដែរ។ រឿងនេះ ធ្វើអោយយើងនឹកដល់លោករ៉ាត់ រត្នមុនី ដែលគ្រាន់តែថៃបកអោយទូរទស្សន៌រុស្សុីថតរឿងការលក់កូនស្រីធ្វើពេស្យាចារ ត្រូវបានតុលាការដាក់ឃុំឃាំងបន្សល់ទុកអោយភរិយានិងកូនតូចរស់នៅកណ្តោចកណ្តែង។ នេះជាបទរំលោភសិទ្ធិមនុស្សធ្ងន់ធ្ងរដោយតុលាការអសមត្ថភាពមួយនេះ។ រដ្ឋាភិបាលហាក់ដូចជាជំនាញខាងមិនទទួលស្គាល់សេចក្តីពិតដើម្បីដោះស្រាយបញ្ហាពិត ដោយប្រើប្រាស់តុលាការដើម្បីការពារមុខមាត់ខាងក្រៅក្នុងន័យប្រជាភិថុតិប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្លួនឯង។ សូមតុលាការពិចារណាដោះលែងលោករ៉ាត់ រត្នមុនីជាបន្ទាន់ដើម្បីទទួលស្គាល់ការពិតនៃជំងឺសង្គមមួយនេះនិងរួមគ្នាដោះស្រាយបញ្ហាដោយសុទ្ធិចិត្តទាំងអស់គ្នា។

Toby Leung’s Charity Work Improves Lives of Child Sex Trafficking Victims

By hailey on May 1, 2019 in NEWS Op-Ed: Jayne Star

Toby Leung’s Charity Work Improves Lives of Child Sex Trafficking Victims
Cambodian young prostitution outraged 1
Cambodian young prostitution outraged 2

Cambodian young prostitution outraged 3

Cambodian young prostitution outraged 4

Cambodian young prostitution outraged 5

At the end of April,Toby Leung (梁靖琪) and a group of successful businesswomen in Hong Kong set off to Cambodia as volunteers to support the Agape International Missions (AIM). The charitable organization hopes to help child sex trafficking victims by creating safe housing and teaching survival skills. Toby hopes to rebuild the girls’ confidence and give them a new chance in life.

Last November, Toby first spoke about her visit to Cambodia to help child sex trafficking victims. Her accounts that girls as young as two years old were sold into prostitution by their own parents shocked many, but also raised awareness in how people can help.

“The plane ride from Hong Kong is only two hours, but it’s a completely different world [in Cambodia]. The rescued girls are all very pure and innocent; a little toy can make them really happy. It is hard to believe that they had experienced such trauma. Due to poverty, some two year-old girls are sold into prostitution, losing their childhood innocence at such a young age,” Toby said.

The 36-year-old actress is a big supporter of AIM because they rescue approximately 1,600 young girls from the ages of 8 to 18 every year. Aside from Toby, many other successful women joined the mission, including a member of the Hong Kong Bar Association, a jewelry brand owner, and an event planner.

Realizing the impact their efforts leave, female volunteers usually return to Cambodia for multiple missions. One of the volunteers recounted a story where a 14-year-old girl was sold, and was eventually rescued. Unfortunately, during the 22 days of waiting for help, 198 people raped her. This story always brings tears to her eyes. Another volunteer shared the story of an 8-year-old survivor who was eventually adopted in the United States and later started her own business as an adult. She now joins these types of missions to help other unfortunate young girls.

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Did Socrates corrupt the mindset of Athens youths?

Quotes of Socrates=សុភាសិតពីលោកសូក្រាត

An unexamined life is not worth living.
ជីវិតដែលមិនបានពិនិត្យដិតដល់គឺរស់ទាំងគ្មានតំលៃ

True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.
ចំណេះដឹកពិតប្រាកដមាននៅក្នុងការដឹងគឺអ្នកមិនដឹងអ្វីទាំងអស់។

To find yourself, think for yourself.
ចង់រកខ្លួនឯងអោយឃើញ គិតខ្លួនឯង

When the debate is over, slander becomes the tool of the loser.
ពេលការដេញដោលបានបញ្ចប់ ការជេរប្រមាទនឹងក្លាយទៅជាឧប្បករណ៌សម្រាប់អ្នកចាញ់។

Beware the barrenness of a busy life.
ចូរប្រុងប្រយ័ត្នពីភាពឥតន័យពីជីវិតរវល់ជាប់ជានិច្ច។

Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.
ការអប់រំគឺជាដើមចមនៃអណ្តាតភ្លើង មិនមែនជាការដាក់បំពេញទៅក្នុងប្រឆេះទេ។

By all means marry: if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.
និយាយគ្រប់បញ្ហានៃអាពាហ៌ពិពាហ៌៖ ប្រសិនបើអ្នករកបានភរិយាល្អ អ្នកនឹងមានសុភមង្គល តែបើអ្នករកបានភរិយាអាក្រក់ អ្នកនឹងក្លាយទៅជាអ្នកទស្សនៈវិជ្ជា។

There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.
មានអំពើល្អតែមួយគត់គឺវិជ្ជា និងអំពើអាក្រក់តែមួយគត់គឺអវិជ្ជា។

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.
ខ្ញុំមិនអាចបង្រៀននរណាម្នាក់បានទេ ខ្ញុំអាចគ្រាន់តែធ្វើអោយពួកគេគិតប៉ុណ្ណោះ។

តាមពិតសិស្សរបស់សូក្រាតគឺប្លាតូបានបកស្រាយយ៉ាងច្បាស់អំពីការចោទប្រកាន់នោះ ហើយការចោទប្រកាន់ដែលពោរពេញទៅដោយលោភៈដូចជាពួកSophistsក្រុមអ្នកនយោបាយពុករលួយច្រណែន ដោយទោសៈគឺការខឹងទៅលើពាក្យសូមទោសApologyរបស់សូក្រាតនៅចំពោះមុខតុលាការ ដែលប្រការនេះមិនមែនជាការទទួលកំហុសថាពង្វក់យុវជនអោយប្រព្រឹត្តអំពើពុករលួយទេតែជាការការពារខ្លួនself-defenceប៉ុណ្ណោះ និងមោហៈគឺការវង្វេងពីការពិតរបស់តុលាការជាពិសេសគណៈវិនិច្ឆ័យJuryដែលត្រវបានគ្របដណ្តប់ដោយអវិជ្ជាគឺជំនឿលើអាទិទេពក្រិចសម័យនោះយូរយារមកណាស់មកហើយ ផ្ទុយពីសូក្រាតដែលរមែងប្រកាន់ខ្ជាប់លើសច្ចធម៍Truthប៉ុណ្ណោះ។

Plato’s Apology of Socrates: 10 Key points
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From Hobbes to Hun Sen

ជាសង្ខេប អត្ថបទដោយលោកដេវីដ ហាត់ចង់បង្ហាញពីវប្បធម៌នយោបាយរបស់លោកហ៊ុន-សែនដែលយកអំពើហឹង្សាជាយានឈានទៅរកការគ្រប់គ្រង់ទោះក្នុងរូបភាពណាក៏ដោយ។ ការប្រៀបធៀបថាកម្ពុជាសព្វថ្ងៃជាសមិទ្ធិផលខុសឆ្ងាយពីរបបខ្មែរក្រហមហើយខ្លួននឹងខិតខំគ្រប់រូបភាពដើម្បីការពារសន្តិភាពគឺជាសក្ខីកម្មខាងការគំរាមគំហែងថាមានតែខ្លួនទេដែលអាចរក្សាសន្តិភាពដូចគ្នានឹងអ្វីដែលមេដឹកនាំខ្មែរក្រហមធ្លាប់អៈអាងដូច្នេះដែរ។ ក្នុងទស្សនៈរដ្ឋធម្មជាតិ(state of nature)របស់ហប់ ទស្សនៈវិទូនយោបាយក្រិចបុរាណ ទំលាប់នៃអំពើហឹង្សា(violence)គឺជាគន្លឹះសំខាន់នៃរដ្ឋអជ្ញាបុរាណ។ រដ្ឋធម្មជាតិនេះគ្មានទេយុត្តិធម៌ សេរីភាព និងកម្មសិទ្ធិឯកជន។ ផ្ទុយទៅវិញឡក់(Locke)ផ្តល់អត្ថន័យរដ្ឋធម្មជាតិខុសពីហប់(Hobbes) ត្រង់ថារដ្ឋធម្មជាតិជាបណ្តុំនាំអោយមានការប្រកួតប្រជែងតាមសេរីភាពនិងកំរិតសមត្ថភាពរបស់មនុស្សម្នាក់ៗដើម្បីឈរអោយបានខ្ពស់ដាច់គេ។ ការប្រកួតប្រជែងនេះហើយ ដែលធ្វើអោយរដ្ឋធម្មជាតិឈានទៅជារដ្ឋប្រជាជាតិទំនើប(modern nation-state)បច្ចុប្បន្នដោយម្នាក់ៗខ្លាចការបង្ហូរឈាមបើនៅតែសាចដាក់គ្នាដោយការឈានមករកកិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងបង្កើតជាច្បាប់ឡើយ…តែការយកច្បាប់ជាឈ្នាន់និងជាន់ឈ្លីតាមអំណាចលោភៈរបស់មនុស្សមានអំណាចម្នាក់នឹងនាំទៅរករដ្ឋធម្មជាតិ(state of nature)វិញដូចគ្នា។

From Hobbes to Hun Sen

David Hutt

Op-Ed: Asia Times

By DAVID HUTT

History doesn’t repeat itself, despite the thoughts of a certain German philosopher, and it certainly doesn’t manifest a dyad of tragedy and farce. If there is one iron law of history, it is of unintended consequences. Yet the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) assumes the first and neglects the latter.

State of Nature in views of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau

For decades, the CPP, which came to power in 1979 after helping to overthrow the Khmer Rouge regime, has delighted in telling its citizens that Cambodia will fall back into the murderous, anarchic ways of the 1970s if the ruling party is ever removed from office. Just this week, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng warned that if the CPP were toppled from power, Cambodia would “fall into mud” like in the 1970s.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is often more explicit. “You must know that as long as I am the prime minister, I will not let them kill me. At any cost, I must protect peace and lives of Cambodian people,” he said on one occasion. On another, this January, he said that his government had “ended completely the chronic civil war” and brought “full peace” to Cambodia. “Cambodia, which used to be full of killing fields and dominated by the dictatorship regime and horrific genocidal regime, now becomes a land of freedom,” he said.

This narrative is well known among ordinary Cambodians, journalists and analysts, but it is worth reviewing every now and then, for it reveals a certain psychology of the ruling party. In the CPP’s framing of events, history certainly does appear to be repeating itself.

Rise of Khmer Rouge

In 1970, military commander Lon Nol seized power in a coup, supported though not necessarily materially backed by the US. But his brief republic was plagued by corruption and mismanagement, and five years later the Khmer Rouge violently took power, instigating a four-year tyrannous regime. Fast-forward to late 2017 and the CPP claimed that its main political opponent, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was also plotting a coup, and also with US backing – claims that have never been supported by a shred of evidence. The Supreme Court forcibly dissolved the CNRP in November 2017.

The CPP clearly wants to demonstrate that if it were ever ousted, it would be a repeat of Lon Nol’s coup of 1970 – the implication being that whoever removes the CPP from office would unleash the same disorder that allowed the Khmer Rouge to come to power, and then decades of civil war. Yet the CPP’s analogy of a repetitional history is sloppy. Today, there is no band of Maoist radicals waiting in the forests to seize power and unleash class warfare; there is no major geopolitical flagellation taking place in neighboring Vietnam and Laos; and Cambodians have known peace for decades now (remember Norodom Sihanouk’s regime only ruled for 17 years between independence in 1953 and Lon Nol’s coup in 1970).

Historical analogies are attractive for their simplicity and ease of understanding, but all too often they are widely off the mark. Yet they are revealing about the thoughts of the interlocutor.

Read between the lines and what the CPP is saying is that all that separates Cambodians from slipping back into the tyrannous brutality of the 1970s is the calming hand of the CPP

Pay attention to the latent meaning of the CPP’s warnings. What it basically assumes is that Cambodian society, at its heart, is brutish and violent and anarchic  – bellum omnium contra omnes. Indeed, read between the lines and what the CPP is saying is that all that separates Cambodians from slipping back into the tyrannous brutality of the 1970s is the calming hand of the CPP – the Leviathan on the Mekong. (Indeed, modern Cambodian politics resemble the paying out of the Hobbes-Locke debates.)

If the party falls from power, it says, anarchy and murder will resume. It is a rather nihilistic view of the society it governs over. It is also rather arrogant and paternalist. Indeed, it assumes the worst instincts in its citizens and the finest in the government. Self-reverentially, the party sees itself as the force of order that prevails over a brutal state of nature.

Of course, all this might be described as just rhetoric, a clever (and quite effective) way of the CPP presenting itself as the noble savior and custodian of Cambodian peace – Cambodia itself, if the analogy is taken to its logical conclusion. Yet there is no reason to doubt that senior CPP politicians don’t believe in their own stories.

Continue reading “From Hobbes to Hun Sen”
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