Observers said Sunday that they have been baffled by two banners hanging from the western wall of the Chinese Embassy, one of which questions the nationality of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, and the second of which equates him with social instability.
Jimmy Gao, president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said he did not believe the embassy was responsible for the banners, one of which reads “Sam Rainsy = Cambodian political and social instability,” and the other “Sam Rainsy is not a Cambodian citizen.”
“The diplomatic principle for the Chinese government is very clear. We do not interfere in the internal affairs of foreign countries,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anything involved with the Chinese Embassy.”
Repeated phone calls to the embassy went unanswered, while Foreign Affairs Ministry Secretary of State Huy Kanthoul Vora declined to comment because he had not seen them.
Sam Rainsy Party Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said he spotted the banners at the embassy several months ago when they began appearing at academic institutions around the city.
He said the embassy may not have put the banners up, adding that it could be a ploy to destroy China’s reputation and weaken their influence in the capital.
But he added that if the banners were put there by embassy officials, they would be meddling in Cambodia’s internal politics.
Opposition party member Mu Sochua said that even if others had posted the banners, the embassy would be giving at least tacit approval if it had seen them and not taken them down.
“The question is: Is the embassy supporting the statement?” she said. “Does the embassy understand what the banner says? I am sure they have officials who speak Khmer.”
Chea Vannath of the Center for Social Development said she had also noticed similar signs on a mosque near the embassy.
“If you go a little bit further around that neighborhood there’s a Muslim mosque. There are also anti-Sam Rainsy banners there at the mosque,” Chea Vannath said. “So it’s beyond country and beyond religion.”