A new organization in Cambodia that pushes for a unified China will not be involved in politics or business, but instead is just a new branch of a worldwide organization that promotes Taiwan’s joining the mainland.
“It looks like a political issue, but we are not politicians. We are business people. We are ordinary people. We just want China to be reunified by peaceful means,” said Yum Sai Sang, one of five vice chairmen for the new Cambodian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China.
The Chinese government considers Taiwan a rogue province that must eventually reunite with the mainland. Members of the Peaceful Reunification Council want it done peacefully, but quickly, said Yum, who recently returned from a conference of similar councils held in Tokyo.
Yum is the chairman of the Hong Kong, Macau and Chinese Business Association, which represents some of the more than 200 businesses owned by Chinese in Cambodia. But the new council will not give more preferential treatment to association members, and will not try to affect business decisions by Chinese investors here, Yum said.
Non-Chinese who support reunification are welcome to apply for membership in the new council, Yum said. Since April, the council has elected 27 officers who are now beginning to sort through about 100 applications for membership. The chairman of the Reunification Council is Duong Chiv, a Chinese-Cambodian with numerous business interests here ranging from import-export to real estate development.
“We anticipate there will be some Taiwanese who join,” Yum said.
Wang Hsin, a Taiwanese shoe factory owner and member of the Taiwanese Business Association, said that there had been few discussions about the new council within Taiwanese circles. The council is not viewed as a threat by Taiwanese here.
“We’re not against it. No matter if Hong Kong, Macau, mainland or Taiwanese, we’re all Chinese. No problem,” Wang said.
Taiwanese businessmen have been working in Cambodia without official representation since 1997. After factional fighting in the capital in July of that year put Prime Minister Hun Sen firmly in power and unseated then-first premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Hun Sen kicked out all of Taiwan’s officials. He accused unnamed Taiwanese officials of collaborating to sell arms to Ranariddh’s faction and effectively severed ties with Taiwan.
Since then, Hun Sen has accepted an increasing amount of aid and advice from mainland China. Within the past year, Cambodia has welcomed Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Li Peng, who ranks just below Jiang in the Communist Party.
Yum, in his role as head of the mainland business association in Cambodia, has met them both. But they did not discuss business or politics. “It was just social,” he said.
Yum stated that Cambodia has always enjoyed a good relationship with China, And that when China is accepted into the World Trade Organization, Cambodia will have no problems “penetrating Chinese markets.”
“China really wants Cambodia to be developed and to rehabilitate as soon as possible,” Yum said.