China is investing billions in Cambodia’s economy, outspending even the Kingdom’s national budget. But as more and more Cambodians raise fears of crime, corruption and colonial ambition, could rising public resentment lead the nation back to its dark days of racially motivated violence?
Last month, as families across Cambodia left their hometowns behind to mark the close of the Kingdom’s three-day festival of the dead, a Chinese man armed with local military license plates pressed his boot to the pedal of his Lexus, careened wildly off the road and rammed into the red-brick US-Cambodia Friendship Monument on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. As metaphors go, they don’t come much more obvious: This was the China that Cambodians feared, shielded by wealth and cosy ties with the Cambodian authorities, marking their territory in the lands left behind by the retreating West.
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