Driving into the coastal Cambodian city of Sihanoukville, it’s easy to lose your bearings. Half-built buildings adorned with Chinese-language signs jut crudely into the sky. Casinos and other symbols of Chinese development mark the nominally Cambodian streets below.
Yet Sihanoukville, thanks to Cambodian strongman Hun Sen’s alignment with Beijing, is now a Chinese city, a colony of sorts—where the incoming conquerors act often without thought for their new local vassals. Stories of criminal Chinese behavior—kidnapping, sex trafficking, prostitution, and murder—are plentiful. This has spread across the country, spurring widespread Cambodian anti-Chinese sentiment.