The government has no comment on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s remarks that the Republic of China’s (ROC) flag is banned from being raised in his country to “respect the sovereignty of China,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) said yesterday.
According to the Cambodian Daily, Hun Sen reiterated his government’s support for Beijing’s “one China” principle during a dinner on Saturday hosted by the Cambodian-Chinese Association.
“We should not do anything that affects respect for China’s sovereignty and independence through shaking hands and stepping on feet,” the paper quoted him as saying. “I request to people here: Please do not raise the Taiwanese flag whenever you are gathering, even at a hotel during Taiwan’s national holidays. It is not allowed.”
Calling Taiwan and Tibet provinces of China, Hun Sen said that his nation’s foreign policy is the one that has been implemented since the Sihanouk regime, referring to King Norodom Sihanouk.
“As an independent, sovereign nation, we endeavor to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and are willing to establish a friendly and mutually beneficial relationship with any country in the region, including Cambodia,” Wang said.
The Cambodia Daily also reported that Taiwan tried to establish a trade office in Phnom Penh, but was snubbed by Hun Sen in 2009 and again in July 2014, citing the government’s adherence to the “one China” principle.
Wang declined to say if the government had tried to set up an office, but said that it is “not possible for the ministry to set up a representative office or trade office in every country around the world.”
“Jurisdictions” have been drawn up instead, and affairs with Cambodia are handled by the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in Ho Chih Minh City, Vietnam, she said.
Asked if Hun Sen’s comments would have a negative impact on the government’s “new southbound policy,” Wang said: “No comment.”
The Cambodian leader’s remarks were based on “his own thoughts and calculations,” Wang added.
However, lawmakers said Hun Sen’s remarks might be a sign of increasingly aggressive Chinese diplomatic moves against Taiwan in Southeast Asia.
“From the Nigeria incident to the Cambodian prime minister’s remarks, there has been a noticeable escalation of China’s efforts to turn its diplomatic allies against Taiwan,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said.
Nigeria last month said it would cease all diplomatic relations with Taiwan in accordance with the “one China” principle.
China was presumably behind Hun Sen’s reiteration of the ban on the ROC flag, but Beijing need not and should not launch another “diplomatic war” against Taipei, which would only hurt cross-strait relations, Lo said.
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said that while Hun Sen’s comments might reflect his own choice to submit to Beijing, other ASEAN states where Taiwanese businesses have a strong presence might also be subject to Beijing’s coercive diplomacy.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus convener Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) said Hun Sen’s remarks must reflect a demand from Beijing, as Cambodia has always been close to China.
“The two sides of the Taiwan Strait should come up with a new way to handling things like this,” he said.
“The Chinese government should relax a bit and try not to be so tense and demanding, considering that the people on both sides of the Strait are ethnic Chinese,” the KMT lawmaker said.
The government should also reflect on why cross-strait relations have deteriorated so badly, he said.
New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said a policy that ignores the existence of Taiwan because of pressure from China is futile and unhelpful in protecting Taiwanese and Cambodians.
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