Cambodian beach town in China’s grip

Locals are being swept aside as Sihanoukville swells with Chinese and their investments.

It’s like a hurricane hit Chheav Sovannarith’s humble home. Of the four walls that supported the roof, only one in the back is still standing. Large piles of rubble make it look as though Chheav and his neighbours live on a garbage dump.

But it wasn’t a hurricane that struck the people of Koki, a village close to the Cambodian beach town of Sihanoukville. It was a large band of policemen, soldiers and military police. They came armed with sticks, guns, assault rifles and demolition equipment when the villagers of Koki protested against a forced eviction.

“We tried to block them, to stop them from destroying our houses,” Chheav said in the shadow of a makeshift tent next to his demolished home. “But that didn’t work. They came with a lot of equipment and destroyed everything.”

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