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US orders palms embargo towards Cambodia because of Chinese language affect

WASHINGTON D.C.: Citing deepening Chinese military influence, corruption and human rights abuses by the government and armed forces, the U.S. has ordered an arms embargo on Cambodia.

The added restrictions on defense-related goods and services, issued by the State and Commerce departments, are due to be carried out as of December 9.

A notice in the Federal Register said developments in Cambodia were “contrary to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”

It added that the embargo aims to ensure that defense-related items are not available to Cambodia’s military and military intelligence services without advance review by the U.S. government.

The latest restrictions follow sanctions issued in November by the Treasury Department against two senior Cambodian military officials for corruption, and come amid increasing concern about Beijing’s increasing influence.

Cambodia branded those sanctions as “politically motivated” and said it would not discuss them with Washington.

The U.S. has similar controls on exports of items that might be diverted to “military end users” in Myanmar, China, Russia and Venezuela.

U.S. exports to Cambodia in 2019 totaled $5.6 billion, while the amount of military-related U.S. exports to Cambodia was not immediately known.

China is Cambodia’s largest investor and closest political partner, and Beijing’s support has enabled it to ignore Western concerns about its poor human and political rights records. In turn, Cambodia has generally supported Beijing’s geopolitical positions on various issues, such as its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Also, Washington has strongly condemned the construction of new Chinese military facilities at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base.

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In recent years, Hun Sen’s government has cracked down on the political opposition, shut media outlets and forced hundreds of Cambodian politicians, human rights activists and journalists into exile.

Human rights groups have said that Phnom Penh has engaged in arbitrary arrests and other abuses, while corruption is another major concern.

The Treasury Department sanctions targeted the director-general of the defense ministry’s material and technical services department and a commander in the Royal Cambodian Navy, who, in 2020 and 2021, allegedly conspired with other Cambodian officials to inflate costs of a construction project at the Ream base and planned to use the funds for their own benefit.