Trump must cut China’s tentacles
President-elect Donald Trump needs to re-examine President Obama’s crumbling pipe-dream policy of using Vietnam to contain China. While our Southeast-Asia policy has myopically focused on China’s growing occupation of and base construction on the South China Sea Islands, China has made a Hail Mary pass and outflanked Vietnam by building a new deep-water port in Cambodia. In recent years China has drawn Cambodia into a close military and diplomatic relationship that some strategists see as part of its subversive scheme to control one of the world’s busiest transportation corridors.
A Chinese company, working with the diplomatic support of the People’s Liberation Army, is close to completing construction of this deep-water port on a 90-kilometer stretch of Cambodia’s coastline, according to the company’s executives and documents. The port, which is deep enough to handle cruise ships, bulk carriers or naval vessels of up to 10,000 tons in displacement, is located on the Gulf of Thailand just a few hundred kilometers from disputed territories in the South China Sea.
China now controls more than 20 percent of Cambodia’s total coastline and an area larger than the Netherlands: 4.6 million hectares, all under 99-year lease agreements that cost just a few dollars per hectare.
China is Cambodia’s leading investor, with $9.6 billion in the decade to 2013 and another $13 billion in the pipeline.
According to the Phnom Penh Post, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, one of the longest-serving dictators in the world, recently laid out the red carpet for Chinese investors. Hun Sen prefers China’s investments because those bribes are much sweeter than what others might offer.
MICHAEL BENGE Falls Church