There was a time when Khmer people with Chinese roots in Cambodia used to hide their ethnicity. These days, many young people are just as eager to learn about Chinese culture as China is to export it. In a street-front Chinese classroom, students step around parked motorbikes and fill the seats. The school is one of many in the capital that have profited from a surge in demand because of China's conspicuous investment boom in Cambodia.
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A sleepy Thai town on a 2500-mile underground railway to freedom has become a key transit hub for North Korean refugees. But it’s leaving Bangkok with a political headache.
Cambodian authorities assured the United States’ ambassador to the country that it would abide by international refugee protocols, just two days before it broke its obligations and deported a group of Uighur asylum-seekers to an uncertain future in China, according to documents leaked by the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks.
Details of Cambodia’s sudden U-turn, and the worried backroom consultations among the US Embassy, United Nations and Cambodian officials that preceded it, are contained in a series of diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks this month.
The classified documents highlight how the US and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, were caught flat-footed in countering China’s influence in the lead-up to the controversial December 2009 deportation. And, say human rights observers, the cables cast a troubling spotlight on China’s ability to export its human rights agenda to developing countries like Cambodia.
They start with the walls, peeling off tin sheets or wooden planks from the homes that make up the lakeside slum of Boeung Kak. They carefully remove windows or old wooden doors – anything they can use to rebuild. When they’re finished, all that remain are a pile of bricks and some aging floor tiles.
For weeks, Im Bunnary has looked on in fear as her neighbours tear apart their homes. One of these days, she knows, she could be next.
A network of middlemen in Cambodia's impoverished countryside is helping to fuel the booming maid industry. Faced with a shortage of domestic help, Malaysia has been turning to Cambodia to find workers. Many, though, aren’t receiving what’s promised.