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Chinese Company Displaces Locals to Build Casino in Cambodia

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Published on Mar 7, 2012

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And a casino being built in the jungle of Cambodia brings anti-sentiment towards Chinese. Locals of Botum Sakor forest are speaking out, asking their government to protect them from forced evictions by Chinese companies. The villagers are given the option of compensation or forced removal from their land, neither of which they will accept.

A Chinese real estate company, the Tianjin Development Group, is building a casino in a village in Cambodia. The company's forced evictions have led to anti-China sentiment there, making the Chinese unwelcome guests. Villagers went to a press conference hoping to reach their government.

[Tith Ten, Villager from Thmar Sar District]:
"The Chinese company people are threatening our villagers who refused to leave from their homes in the area. In the past and a long time ago we did not receive such threats or had hardship like this. Now we are living in fear so we ask the Royal Government of Cambodia to help solve the problem in our village."

Koh Kong Province residents live mostly around Botum Sakor Forest, a national preserve and home to many endangered species. The loss of this forest not only means loss of biodiversity, but the livelihood of the residents as well.

One displaced resident describes the situation in her new home.

[Moeung Sam Oeun, Relocated Villager from Thmar Sar Village]:
"The forest behind my house here belongs to the Chinese company. We are in danger if we dare cut any piece of tree in there, we can be jailed or pay compensation of about 100 US dollars per tree, according to the local authority."

This casino is part of a larger plan by Chinese interests to convert the area into a large-scale tourist resort. Soon there will be condos, golf courses, an international airport, and new roads. Chinese companies have nearly finished a four-lane highway
through the area's jungle, and have plans to build more inroads into Cambodia's nature preserves.

China is Cambodia's largest investor, funding many large infrastructure projects and giving millions in financial aid. The Cambodian government has mostly embraced support from China. Unlike many western donors, the Chinese regime does not ask for greater transparency or demand higher standards for environmental and human rights.

The Cambodian government has been selling its parks and forests to private investors with the goal of developing the country's economy. The Chinese real-estate company plans to develop one-fourth of the Botum Sakor national forest, almost eighty-nine thousand acres. Environmental groups warn that this could affect rain levels, causing drought in the area, and it could cause land erosion.

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