Prime Minister Hun Sen last week repeated the government’s support for Beijing’s one-China policy and said that a Taiwanese representative office would not be reopening in Cambodia.
“I have expressed again and again about dealing with Taipei only in commerce, tourism and investment. But now there are people trying to open a Taiwan office in Phnom Penh to benefit themselves,” the premier said Thursday at the Cambodiana Hotel, where he spoke at a conference on tourism.
“I would like to say briefly, ‘No!’” Hun Sen continued. “We have supported only the one-China policy.”
Taiwan repeatedly has angered Beijing, which considers the island a rebellious province, by behaving as an independent state for decades. Beijing’s one-China policy denies Taiwan’s sovereignty.
In 1997, then-second prime minister Hun Sen shut down the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. Phnom Penh municipal authorities alleged the office was “responsible for terrorism,” much to the pleasure of the Chinese Embassy.
At the time, Hun Sen had also charged certain Taiwanese companies with giving military aid to then-first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
Meanwhile, international observers suggested that Hun Sen was trying to cozy up to Beijing for obvious and practical reasons: Investment and development aid.
Hun Sen on Thursday called for the arrest of the unnamed party he said is trying to cheat Taiwanese people with promises of reopening its office. “If police find them, please invite them to Prey Sar [prison]…. I am the person who shut [Taiwan’s office]. Why would I reopen it?” he said.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanarith said Sunday that the party trying to renew ties between Cambodia and Taiwan is unknown. Only Taiwanese would be able to identify them, as the Cambodian government has no diplomatic relations with Taipei.
Funcinpec spokesman Kol Pheng said Monday he did not know about Hun Sen’s comments on Taiwan and declined to answer further questions.