Authorities in Cambodia are preparing to expel 235 Chinese nationals detained in Takeo province this week for running internet scams, with China set to provide a special flight to bring them home within the next two weeks, sources in Cambodia say.
All were picked up on Nov. 26 in raids coordinated with China, and are now being held at a detention center while waiting to be deported, Ouk Hay Seila—head of investigations at the General Department of Immigration—told RFA’s Khmer Service on Wednesday.
“We arrested those suspects at China’s request,” Ouk Kay Seila said.
Those deported will have their names placed on a blacklist barring them from returning to Cambodia, he said.
Monday’s raid, which was launched in four separate locations, was the first to be carried out in southwestern Cambodia’s Takeo province, with raids conducted previously in the coastal city of Sihanoukville, Svay Rieng province in the country’s southeast, and the capital Phnom Penh.
At least 373 Chinese nationals accused of internet scams and kidnapping were sent home from Sihanoukville from January to October, according to Cambodian sources.
Stricter measures called for
Also speaking to RFA, former CNRP opposition party lawmaker Ou Chanroth said that expelling Chinese lawbreakers without first trying them in Cambodian courts will not reduce the spread of crime in the Southeast Asian country.
“[Chinese] crime has recently spread from one province to another. The authorities must take stricter measures against them,” he said.
Meanwhile, a surge in Chinese investment and in the numbers of migrant workers in Sihanoukville has left local beaches polluted and Cambodian residents struggling to meet higher prices as the cost of living rises, Cambodian sources say.
The presence in the city of more than 100,000 Chinese nationals, many of them workers brought in from China as Chinese firms set up casinos or operate power plants and offshore oil platforms in the area, has only made matters worse, sources said.
On Nov. 27, Cambodia’s government issued a public statement dismissing public concerns over the growing Chinese presence in Sihanoukville, saying that local authorities are providing adequate security and stability in the area.
In September, outgoing Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo acknowledged the climbing rates of crime among Chinese living in Cambodia—including drug and sex trafficking and online or telephone scams—and thanked Cambodian authorities for helping to crack down, according to a Sept. 28 report in the Khmer Times.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Richard Finney.