Cambodia bristled yesterday at a US decision to cut a small military aid program to protest the December deportation of Muslim asylum seekers to China, saying if they deserved asylum the US could have offered it.
The US announced on Thursday it had suspended the program that supplied surplus trucks and trailers. It was a response to Cambodia’s deportation of the 20 Uighurs who had fled ethnic violence last year in China’s far west. China accused the Uighurs of involvement in the violence.
The suspension involves about 200 vehicles supplied directly to the Cambodian military and does not affect the roughly US$60 million civilian aid program to Cambodia, US embassy spokesman John Johnson said.
In statements to the UN refugee agency, the Uighurs said they witnessed and documented the July rioting in the Xinjiang region between their minority group and majority Han Chinese and that they feared lengthy imprisonment or even the death penalty if they were returned to China. It was China’s worst ethnic violence in decades.
“These Uighurs were not real political asylum seekers,” said Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith. “If they were real political asylum seekers, the United States could have granted them asylum in the US.”
“We’re happy if the United States provides us with aid, but it’s their right to suspend it,” he said.
China had called the group criminals and presented Cambodia with arrest warrants, the spokesman said. Cambodia said it deported the group because they had entered the country illegally.
“Cambodia couldn’t refuse the request from China to deport them, because China sent us arrest warrants,” Khieu Kanharith said.
China is a key ally and donor to impoverished Cambodia.
Days after the deportations, China announced a US$1.2 billion aid package to Cambodia. Beijing has denied the aid was linked to politics saying it came with “no strings attached.”
The group of Uighurs had made the journey from China’s far west through to Vietnam and then Cambodia with the help of a network of missionary groups.
The US, the UN and several rights groups had urged Cambodia not to deport the group. Following the deportations, the US said it was “deeply disturbed” and that the incident would affect bilateral relations.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference